Labour Leaders, Marketers Fume As National Chairman Of All Progressives Congress, John Odigie-Oyegun Says Petrol Subsidy Must Be Removed In January
Lingering scarcity of petrol in the domestic fuel market flaunts threats of possible clash between government and organized labour groups as both parties vehemently hold conflicting positions on proposed fuel subsidy removal.
Whereas the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) declares that it would remove fuel subsidy as part of its economic recovery system, labour leaders strongly contend that the measure would further worsen the prevailing hardship of impoverished masses.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie- Oyegun who received the party’s National Coalition for Peace and Mobilisation (NACOPEAM) on a courtesy visit at the Party’s National Secretariat in Abuja yesterday stated that the eventual removal of fuel subsidy was inevitable.
Meanwhile the President of pan industry senior workers’ union, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Kiagama, has vowed that any measure that would translate to higher fuel prices in the country would be resisted by the group. While addressing the visiting group in Abuja, Chief Oyegun said the subsidy system has been corrupted marketers whom he described as cabal.
He said subsidy removal has become one of the necessary economic measures the government must take in view of emerging and current realities. He said the current administration inherited an “infected system of subsidy” run by corrupt cartels. “In one way or the other, subsidy must go.” He said a situation where government spends almost a trillion naira yearly on the corruption-tainted subsidy regime is unacceptable and can no longer be sustained. He accused petroleum products marketers in the country of resisting changes in the subsidy system by blackmailing and sabotaging government’s move to remove subsidy by creating scarcity in the system.
According to Oyegun, “oil cartels and their cronies resisting change have continued to blackmail and sabotage government on the issue of subsidy, a development that has resulted in the lingering nationwide fuel scarcities despite serious government efforts”. He said there is need to restructure the country’s oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and inefficiencies.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components may not necessarily result to increase in the pump price of petrol but result to a more efficient and realistic pricing system for petroleum products and also result in constant availability of fuel. Earlier, the NACOPEAM National President, Comrade Ahmed Saleh said the fuel scarcities impacted negatively on the Party. “The unbearable fuel queues along filling stations are indeed avoidable.
The situation is impacting negatively on the integrity of the party and this noble administration of positive change.” he said. Saleh also called on the “total overhauling” of heads of federal government Commissions, parastatals and Agencies. “During electioneering campaign, the APC went around the length and breadth of Nigeria informing the citizen on the ills and mal-administration of the past regime.
“However, there is need for total overhauling and new trusted heads of commissions, paratatals and agencies to be appointed for effective, efficient and result oriented service to the Nigerian citizens. “With this our noble observation, we believe the nation will move forward and the government will be free from administrative sabotage.”
Meanwhile, Comrade Kiagama had told The UNION on Phone that senior pan industry workers’ union would stand in the way of implementing any measure that would entail the price increase until government provides convincing criteria and associated economic palliatives that would cushion the effect of the inevitable transportation crisis.
Expressing anger at the arbitrary decision to hike fuel prices at a time of economic hardship in the country, Comrade Kiagama also faulted the decision for not using market forces as parameters for taking market price decisions. He accused the government of throwing up price hike as basis for deregulation of the market without consultation with stakeholders.
He alleged that President Buhari’s government has unfortunately taken price adjustments in the domestic fuel market as a fund raising strategy to generate funds to finance his programmes and policies. He said that the government has come to power without any credible plan to fund its agenda and thus has resorted to imposing indirect fuel tax on Nigerians through pump price manipulation.