The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Friday expressed concerns over the “persistent” shortage and uncontrollable prices that players in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry force Nigerians to contend with.
The unions lamented that the persistent shortages of Premium Motor Spirit also known as petrol had become a source of pain to the Nigerians.
In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the two unions accused the government of being culpable in the recent hike in fuel prices and shortage.
The statement partly read, “It has led to avoidable long queues, adulteration of the product by the unscrupulous elements, exploitation of the consumers and turning fuel stations to traffic menace.
“All these have tragic consequences for the Nigerian people and debilitating effects on the health of the economy which itself is not in a good state.
“We are reliably informed that the shortage is deliberately fostered by players in the downstream sector in order to hike the price far above the government approved threshold.
“It is an added problem when non-state actors begin to arrogate to themselves the power to determine the price of a litre of fuel far above the rate pegged by government in the current subsidy regime.
“The Nigerian people and tax payers currently spend several trillions of naira annually to subsidise petrol. The same people cannot be exploited and made to pay over N240 per litre when the current ex-depot price is currently fixed at N148.19k per litre.
“The opportunity cost of the subsidy payment is enormous and yet the benefit of the subsidy regime is gradually been eroded. No country develops when its people are subjected to perennials hardship and its industries are shackled by unnecessary chains of miseries.”
The NLC and TUC further stated that it was more disturbing that the government was demonstrating culpability to address Nigerians’ harrowing experiences as a result of fuel scarcity.
“For the records, no private individual or companies are importing a litre of PMS into this country, all products are imported by the government and there is no record whatsoever that the agency of government that is importing the products has added a kobo to the price it sells the products to the marketers. Then who is benefiting from this racketeering?
“We are strongly worried that leaving our energy security and sovereignty in hands of unscrupulous capitalists and their collaborators will further plunge this nation into the economic abyss we are working hard to avoid.
“The labour centres therefore demand of the Federal Government an end to the avoidable, unnecessary, crippling and pain-inducing fuel shortages and unapproved price hike of up to N240 in the country.
“No excuse is good enough to cripple the country. If there are challenges, they should be fixed; we have a government in power to fix challenges not to make excuses.
“The Organised Labour is ready and willing to engage the Federal Government and assist in all ways possible to overcome the country’s present challenges. But we caution it not to take either the Labour Movement or the Nigerian people for granted as it seems to be manifestly doing on various crucial national issues.
“Regulatory and law enforcement agencies should do more to protect the larger Nigeria society from exploitation”.