The Nigeria Labour Congress( NLC) has condemned and rejected the new pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as Petrol as announced by the Federal government, calling on the government to revert to the old pump price with immediate effect.
The Union through a released by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba circulated to newsmen on Thursday said the reason adduced for the purpoted increase was untenable as Nigerians as the sixth largest producer of petroleum products can not be made to pay the same price as obtainable in the international market .
” it with great shock and consternation that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) received the news of increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit commonly called ‘petrol’ from N121 to N143”
” The increase was reported to be consequent upon a “monthly review meeting” by the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA)”
The union however said that that in a statement by the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Saidu Abdulkadir, purportedly released on June 28, 2020 and carried by many news platforms including the Premium Times of July 2, 2020, the PPPRA contradicted itself when it said that the latest price increase described as an “advisory” was meant to regulate a product that government claims had been de-regulated.
The union also fauted the claim, saying that that the new hike in the pump price of petrol was announced without the approval of the board of the PPPRA and the oversight ministry speaks volume of the arbitrariness and public contempt in the operations of PPPRA, which it said was deeply disturbing.
The union also also said that it was very embarrassing that the PPPRA boss while trying to defend the indefensible appeared to be out of sorts and ready to clutch at any available straws to sell what it described as his “ice block merchandise” to “Eskimos”.
The statement said ” Apart from contradicting himself that PPPRA is still trying to regulate a deregulated product through “advisories”, the PPPRA went on to exert more nails on the coffin of his own polemics when he argued that PPPRA was just like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) that would always act to protect the public interest.
The NLC lamented that government has abdicated its responsibility to protect Nigerians from the cut-throat tendencies of neo-liberal market forces.
Accordingly , it said , Contrary to the provisions of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution, PPPRA claims that the abdication is not ‘total’. When the statement by the PPPRA is juxtaposed with the recent killer electricity charges unveiled by DISCOs, Nigerians cannot help but feel the heat of a potent threat to run millions of Nigerians under.
It stated that ” It is even worse that this is coming at a time when our people are living on the precipice of the Covid-19 pandemic”
While rejecting the new pump price in totality, the NLC Chairman said ” There is no way Nigerians would accept a situation where we are charged international rates for a product which Nigeria is the sixth largest producer in the world.”
It said that the extra costs that the PPPRA wants Nigerians to pay in order to promote “growth” and “investment” are actually the cost of profits made by countries that we ship our crude oil to, the cost of sea freight of the refined products, the cost of demurrage at our seaports when the refined products arrive, the cost of frequent devaluation of our national currency, and the cost of official corruption by gatekeepers managing the downstream petroleum sub-sector.
While saying that Nigerians have groaned to pay these unjust costs for years, the statement said this latest increase might just be the last straw that would break the camel’s back.
The NLC as a result demands that the Federal Government reverts to the old price of petroleum, especially given the fact that price of crude oil in the international market has only slightly increased from the previous price before the so-called downward review was announced two months ago.
” Walso renew our call for a national conversation on the management of our oil assets which we insist must be in tandem with the provisions our country’s constitution which clearly mandates that the commanding heights of our national economy must be held by the government in the interest of the citizens of Nigeria”
Finally, the NLC say it demand that the country’s four national petroleum refineries must be fixed without any further delay.
Thestatement concludes by saying that Nigeria belongs to all of us., workers are major stakeholders in the Nigerian project, adding that Nigerian workers and people must not only be treated fairly but must be seen to have been so treated by their government.