The Nigeria Labour Congress received the news of the recent reduction in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as ‘fuel’ from N143 to N125 with mixed feelings.
While we appreciate that the step taken by government was in the right direction, we are concerned that the price reduction did not cut across the array of other refined petroleum products. We also wish to state that the recent price reduction would never address the endemic challenges and confusion in our downstream petroleum sub sector.
First, is the criminal neglect by successive Nigerian governments of all our public petroleum refineries. That is a serious economic sabotage against the Nigerian people. Our failure as a country to add value to our crude oil and the resort to the importation of refined petroleum products expose us as a most unserious people who are negligent of their basic duties. There is no acceptable reason or basis for the continued importation of refined petroleum products into Nigeria.
Second, the downward adjustment of the pump prices of refined petroleum products does not address the inefficiencies and corruption in our downstream petroleum sub sector. The persistence of the so called ‘subsidy’ costs, pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining and smuggling of refined petroleum products all indicate very fundamental flaws with the management of our petroleum resources and assets.
Third, organized labour is concerned about the surrendering of the benefits of our crude oil to international market forces to the exclusion of majority of Nigerians. It is unthinkable that we are paying a global rate for a product God has richly endowed us just because our political leaders have failed to do the commonsensical – fix our refineries!
Given the volatility in the international crude oil market and susceptibility to shocks of the prices of refined petroleum products, we are certain that periodic adjustment, upward or downward of the pump price of refined petroleum products would never assuage the desire of the ordinary Nigerian to enjoy to a reasonable extent resources that God has put in abundance in our environment and under our control.
We would not be surprised if the pump price of PMS is adjusted tomorrow to N200 or more and the same reason for the current downward review is canvassed by government. As a matter of fact, we are yet to understand the basis for the current reduction as the price of crude oil has fallen by more than 50%, yet price reduction is barely up to 20%. Certainly, subjecting the availability and affordability of refined petroleum products in Nigeria to international market forces is a perfect recipe for economic disaster and social chaos.
We call on government to demonstrate patriotic governance of our national resources by ensuring the resuscitation of our four public petroleum refineries. While we welcome the emergence of private refineries, we implore government to respect the provisions of Chapter 2 of our constitution which mandates government to take control of the commanding heights of our economy especially our downstream petroleum sub sector in the interest of citizens. We cannot outsource governance to the private sector. Government has business in business.
Finally, we warn that Nigerians will resist any future increase in the price of refined petroleum prices. A stitch in time would save nine.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni