…Says Nigerian refineries Among Newest in the world
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has said that many Nigerians are docile in engaging the Federal Government on the issue of petroleum products price hike, saying that the labour union is currently trying to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to stand up against neo-libral policies of the government.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba stated this during an interview in Lagos last week.
Comrade Wabba said that the union is solidly in support of the revitalisation of the Nigerian refineries, even as he revealed that the Nigerian refineries are among the newest in the world.
See Full Interview Below:
How is the Labour congress reacting to the proposed increase in fuel pump price?
There is no way we would allow the inefficiency in our system that the government has been unable to address to now be transfered to ordinary Nigerians, already, Nigerians are at a brink, we have been pushed to the wall, many people cannot even afford a meal per day, therefore, increasing the price of fuel would worsen a very bad situation.
We would continue to resist until the neo-libral policies are cancelled, these are the kind of policies that has been a recurring decimal and has not been able to address our developmental challenges. Take for example, we are the only country in the world that produces oil and does not refine, so this issue of increase, whether in the name of deregulation or price hike, it has always been a issue.
We are having a situation now whereby some of the states are not even paying the N30,000 minimum wage, in some states the salary is not even regular, and yet the government wants to add salt to injury by increasing the price of fuel which is an essential commodity, as I stated earlier, Nigerians and NLC would continue to resist these impositions on us.
At this period, it is even more challenging because we are aware that many more people have lost their jobs, the unemployment statistics is extremely high, and the poverty level is incomprehensible that despite our resources, we have not been able to utilize it for the benefit of all.
All these policies are neo-libral policies imposed on Nigerians that we should not refine, but that we should continue to import, so that we would become a destination for only raw materials and we become a destination for imported goods and services, this cannot change the narrative of Nigeria and many African countries.
In any case, the Nigerian citizens at this time require palliative and not additional hardship, we have said so severally that, in the midst of challenges and prices of crude oil going up, it should be an advantage to us and not a burden where we would lament that price of fuel has increased, instead of us benefitting as Nigerians.
Every right thinking Nigerian knows that that price of fuel that is being proposed now is not affordable.
What is now the solution, government must find a way and means of making sure that Nigerians are protected against this evil policies of neo-libral forces.
Is it true that you have reached an agreement with the Government on the fuel price hike?
No, we have met severally and stated our position, after the meeting, we spoke about our position that we can no longer continue dragging the price hike of fuel, we agreed that the refineries should be revitalised which I think is very important, the argument now is at what cost is it going to be. We support the refixing of our refineries, Labour has been on this issue for the past twenty years, we cannot continue to import fuel, if the refineries should work, it is obvious that the landing cost of petrol would not be more than N140 per litre, we have done the analysis and carried out empirical data and which we have shared with stakeholders, if we are refining, even if we are buying crude at international price, we would have the commodity cheaper for Nigerians which is better for the economy and it would create jobs.
Are you in support of the N1.5billion the government wants to spend on the refineries?
We support the idea of reviving the refineries, but the issue of the cost component, we are not competent to know what the cost would be, we cannot argue the cost, but we urge the government to be transparent in the process of putting these figures and also the procedures so that Nigerians would be able to examine these figures. We are in support of fixing the refineries, but some people have argued that the cost is too high, and basically, we do not have knowledge of the instruments that is required for the fixing, I think it is also good for government to put all these facts before all of us, so that we can know how the components would be changed, what are the processes involved so that Nigerians can know it is transparent process.
If the government remains adamant by removing subsidy and sell fuel above N200, what should we expect from Labour?
If not for the intervention of the Labour, do you think the price of fuel have not been increased before now? The one that was increased recently was reversed because we raised the issue, it is left for all of us because this policy would have a negative effect on everyone. We would provide the leadership as usual and try to resist it, all of us have to be on our feet to resist these policies, policies are supposed to add value to Nigerians and reduce our burdens, not to increase our burdens.
As you are aware, we have continued to engage this issue for the past twenty years, once the price of crude goes up at the international market, we tend to pay higher, it has been a vicious cycle, it would get to a point that people would not even be able to ride a motorcycle in Nigeria if we continue with that vicious cycle, this is why we have said that fixing our refineries is the way out.
The Federal Government gave out six licenses for building refineries, but out of them all, it is only Dangote that is trying to build one now which I think is commendable. But, the other six people got the licenses, they hide it and continued importation.
If we can discourage importation and encourage modular refineries, modular refineries as we are told can only produce diesel, it cannot produce PMS, if the modular refineries were available, the price of diesel by now ought to have gone down because we are producing here. As a result of no due diligence, the price of diesel has gone up to N260 per litre and nobody gets any explanation.
Outside what we are doing as Labour to engage the issue, Nigerians seem to be very docile, what we are doing now is trying to awaken the consciousness of everybody and every Nigerian so that we can resist these policies, it is when we have resisted it that these institutions would take their hands off Nigerians.
Energy is still being subsidised in 159 countries of the world, you must insulate citizens against the hardship that some economic policies would bring, and the issue of fuel pump price is one of them, Nigerians are not the architects of these problems, God has given us the resources, but we need the refineries, and because of the inherent cost, people don’t support fixing the refineries.
Take note, that while we are encouraging resuscitation of the refineries, some people want to buy the refineries as scraps, but they are not scraps, Nigerian refineries are one of the newest in the world, if you Google the refineries that are more than 100years.
Some people want to buy the refineries which is our common wealth as scraps, but we argued that government should fix it and make the process transparent, if government cannot manage it, let them sell it to Nigerians, if you look at Ethiopian Airways, it has been privatised to their citizens, every family in Ethiopia has a stake in Ethiopia Airways and that is why it cannot fail, every family has at least one person employed, this is the same thing they did with their power sector.
We on our commissioned a study and discovered that in 2003, IMF imposed a policy of “dont refine, continue to import” and this is why we are in this situation because they want to make us their market, once we export crude oil to them, they refine it and send it back to us, by so doing, we are perpetually their market, who gains? They gain more than us