Nigeria’s labour centres, NLC and TUC have denied being consulted by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Transition Committee on the alleged plan to remove fuel subsidy.
News reports last week claimed that labour had been consulted and the leaders had accepted the plan to remove fuel subsidy.
But a joint statement by Comrade Ayuba Wabba, president ,Nigeria Labour Congress,NLC and Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama ,President Trade Union Congress,TUC denied being consulted.
“We would want to state unequivocally that at no time has any one consulted us on the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy.We are certainly not party to this and no one should put words in our mouth. We make bold to challenge the Committee to mention the names of the “labour leaders” who were consulted and who “accepted” the position they have expressed for the public to know”, the statement said.
“Our position on the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy is unwavering. We recognize the corruption in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry orchestrated by government agencies in collusion with big-time business persons together with whom they have formed a cartel.We hold the view that in order to be able to deal with this situation effectively, government needs to break up this cabal by opening up the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to fair competition governed by ethics.
“Our mass protest in January 2012 against an increase in prices of petroleum products opened up a can of worms in the sector prompting legal proceedings against some of the culprits. Till this moment, in spite of overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence against the culprits, nothing has been heard about the case(s); yet it was a prime opportunity for government to demonstrate its fight against big corruption through diligent prosecution.
NLC and TUC urged “President Muhammadu Buhari to muster the necessary political will by not only opening up the sector to fair competition but by ensuring diligent prosecution of all the accused. We remain convinced that the real solution to the crisis in the sector lies in ensuring that domestic refining is promoted. This can only be achieved if new refineries are built and the four existing ones made to produce at installed capacity thus doing away with the need for importation of refined petroleum products . New pipelines should also be laid and the old ones refurbished to more efficiently channel the products to all parts of the country, instead of relying on carriage by tankers on our already over-burdened roads. Furthermore, the jobs of workers in the oil and gas industry must not be adversely affected by the removal of subsidy. And, of course, there must be clear and well-thought-out palliatives relating to transportation and other social services as would be necessary for ameliorating the effects of subsidy removal on the masses.