By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has protested the increase in the local pump price of petrol from N123 to N143.80 per litre.
The union also asked the federal government to reverse the measure in view of the current economic hardship imposed by the spread of COVID-19 pandemic disease.
The NASU stated that the increase in the pump price of petrol workers directly through the purchase of the product for their vehicles and generators and indirectly through increased cost of public transportation and other essential products.
The latest increase in the pump price of petrol took effect from July 1, 2020.
In a statement issued on yesterday by the General Secretary NASU, Mr. Peters A. Adeyemi, the union said that the increase came to its members, and indeed all workers in the country, as a shock “especially coming at a time when most workers are still struggling and have not yet found their feet financially after most of them have lost incomes and continue to lose incomes and jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This increase cannot be justified especially at this time. We in NASU see it as an extortion of the downtrodden masses of this country in favour of market forces. It is not only unjust but insensitive. The action has added to the hardship of workers and ordinary Nigerians. We therefore call for an immediate reversal by the government.”
The union said that most workers are months back in the payment of their rents and other loans.
The NASU said that the political ruling class, be they in the ruling party or opposition parties and their class collaborators in public bureaucracy as well as their cronies in the private sector, do not care about the price of petroleum products because they do not buy these products with their hard earned money.
“They are driven in vehicles bought and fueled for them by either the government or their companies. They live in government and companies’ accommodations; have installed generators that provide constant electricity for their household use. They would have dubiously and corruptly amassed sufficient resources to meet the needs of their family members to the third generation before they leave office,” NASU said.
The union alleged that pecuniary interests would not allow government officials and their collaborators to ensure that domestic refineries would work efficiently.
“In the whole politics of the import price of petroleum products, be it under subsidy regime or removal of subsidy in favour of market forces to determine retail prices in the country, it is this same bureaucrats in the petroleum industry and their private sector collaborators who will always be the winners while the masses and the nation are the losers.
“They prefer importation of refined petroleum products against refining the products locally for the simple reason that it gives them the opportunity to continue to build up their foreign currency accounts offshore, which they hold and operate through proxies,” it said.
The NASU observed that successive governments in the country have always been held hostage by these corrupt bureaucrats and their collaborators in the private sector of the oil industry.