…Say selling old stocks at exorbitant prices ‘man’s inhumanity to man’
…Restore old fuel price or face industrial action, NLC tells FG
Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Friday accused oil marketers of inflicting pains on Nigerians after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pronouncement that fuel subsidy is gone.
The governors, under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), said this during a courtesy visit to the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The chairman of PGF and the governor of Imo state, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, condemned increased oil prices of “old stock” fuel by marketers.
“I’m not aware that any petroleum marketer has imported any product. All the products in their storage facilities are those already imported, subsidised by the government. Why the rush to increase the prices? It is man’s inhumanity to man.
“From my own thinking, deductively speaking, I cannot imagine anybody importing a vessel of product between 29th of May till today and have it available in Nigeria to sell at a new price. So, if you are a deductive analyst, wear your thinking cap, you will understand what I’m saying. We must be our brother’s keepers. So, I think that what we should do is to be our brother’s keepers and learn how to save the firewood we got during the dry season so that we can use it during the rainy season.
“But I also think that as we work towards improving the economy of this country, with the intention of creating prosperity, the government will be reasonable enough to look at the reality on ground and address them as appropriate.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the man who has raised his pump price from N300 plus to N500 plus is creating panic that there’ll be no product, but I’m also aware that the genuine investors and private people are now working hard,” he said.
While reiterating their support for the removal of subsidy on petrol, Uzodinma said the decision was made by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, under the National Economic Council (NEC), led by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, when they realised that it was no longer possible to fund subsidies.
Asked what the states were going to do to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians in the face of the current realities, Uzordinma said: “By next month, July, the Dangote Refinery will be on stream and it’s a very big refinery that will make products available. You are aware that the federal government awarded turnaround maintenance contracts for Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri refineries; so, if within the period, these refineries are working, products will be available and the market forces will come into play.
“So, let us create competition in the market, there’s no way any reasonable mind will encourage monopoly, anywhere in the world. Let the forces of the market determine prices, let demand and supply be at play. So, those are the things I think we should do.
“For our workers, I know the President we have. You know he was the first person to increase salaries in Lagos, so he will not be insensitive to the time and experiences of federal civil servants, but we need to encourage investments, we need to allow business to boom, we need to stimulate economic activities in a manner that prosperity will be the name of the business.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the federal government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to revert to the old pump prices of premium motor spirit otherwise known as petrol or face industrial action.
The Congress gave the NNPCL till Wednesday to return to the old price of N194 per litre or it would direct its members to withdraw their services nationwide.
The president of NLC, Joe Ajaero, gave the warning at the end of its meetings with organs of the Congress in Abuja Friday.
The NNPCL had, on Wednesday, jerked the pump prices of PMS by over 200 per cent, thus bringing the price of fuel to between N488 and N557 per litre.
This decision followed a pronouncement made by President Bola Tinubu that subsidy had gone in his inauguration on Monday.
The pronouncement generated debates, with Labour insisting on the old pump price even as a meeting with the federal government team and organised labour on Wednesday ended in a deadlock.
Blueprint Weekend gathered that both parties were expected to resume negotiations on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ajaero has directed affiliates of the NLC to commence mobilisation immediately ahead of the planned nationwide protest.
“The NLC decided that if by Wednesday next week the NNPCL, a private limited liability company, that illegally announced a price regime in the oil sector, refuses to announce revert itself for negotiation to continue, that the NLC and all its affiliates, will withdraw their services and commence protests nationwide until this is complied with.
“The NNPCL doesn’t have the monopoly to act illegally even as a private company. The NLC NEC therefore directed all state councils and all industrial unions to commence mobilisation from this moment to make sure that this action is enforced. The action has commenced at this moment,” he said.
He also called for a probe of the subsidy regime and urged the NNPCL to ensure a proper account of the amount of petroleum products Nigerians consume daily.
He accused the NNPCL of refusing to disclose beneficiaries of subsidy and landing cost of petroleum products, saying, “The Nigeria Labour Congress is calling for a thorough probe in the process of subsidy to know those involved and the amount involved. Investigate it properly before it is swept under the carpet.
“The current attempt to sweep the fraudulent practices in the subsidy regime should not be tolerated by all well-meaning Nigerians.”