By ANDREW OJIEZEL
THE President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has expressed displeasure over the scarcity of fuel across the country and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to impose punitive sanctions on the perpetrators of this artificial scarcity to act as deterrent.
Vexed that 72 hours after the promised, people are still spending hours, queuing for fuel, NLC stated that noted “the marketers and other groups that have held the country hostage over the years for their unearned profiteering from the petroleum sector are still determined to continue as if it is business as usual.”
Wabba who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his stand against the removal of subsidy however appealed to him against backpedaling over his stand, saying “The on-going scarcity, for us, is a deliberate strategy by the cabal in the oil industry to force the hands of government to remove subsidy and therefore work against the interest of the Nigerian masses. They have done this and succeeded in the past, most particularly in the governments of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, through blackmail and deliberate hoarding of petroleum products.
“We call on government through the regulatory agencies like the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) to impose punitive sanctions on the perpetrators of this artificial scarcity.
Further, NLC lamented that the union was outraged by the continuing incidences of fuel scarcity resulting in skyrocketing prices and long queues spreading to different parts of the country. We note that this is happening despite assurances from government and its agencies that there is enough fuel being distributed around the country and that citizens need not go into panic buying.
In a statement by Comrade Wabba, the union stressed that “It is completely unacceptable to us that Nigerians are forced to go through the perennial hardship especially towards the end of the year, and now have to cough out between N130 N300 per litre of petrol in different parts of the country, instead of the official N87 per litre price. This for us shows a clear determination of the unpatriotic operators in the petroleum sector working to circumvent government regulation through blackmail and other unorthodox methods.
“Government needs to urgently address the issue of hoarding by marketers and others who have continued to canvass for so-called deregulation in which government would hands-off regulating prices of petroleum products. Given that petroleum products continue to be the artery of our economy, indeed our existence, it is naïve and foolhardy to expect that government will hands-off the downstream sector and allow for those whose sole purpose is profit-making to take over full control of determining the prices of these critical products.
“On our part as Congress, we are prepared to partner with the relevant regulatory and enforcement agencies to enforce the N87 per litre price regime. We call on the various state governors who also share the responsibility of providing succor to Nigerians to join in enforcing the official price of products in their domains.
“At a time when Nigeria is struggling to find new buyers for our primary product crude oil, as a result of either new or alternative energy finds or cheaper crude oil from war-torn areas, our government must work out a plan to over time be in a position to refine all our crude oil in the country, to add value therein before exporting. This would yield more foreign exchange for the nation, against the current trading in the primary product which the country has engaged in since oil was discovered in commercial quantity back in 1956.”