Workable Refineries Solution To Petrol Subsidy Problem – NLC

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Cmrd. Ayuba Wabba, NLC president

The problems associated with payment of petrol subsidy would have been addressed if the country had functional refineries, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.

The NLC made this diclosure on Saturday in a statement issued in response to a query by the presidential campaign council of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Earlier on Saturday, the APC presidential campaign council asked the congress to state its position on the payment of petrol subsidy in the wake of NLC’s support for the candidacy of Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

The NLC is among the groups that have declared support for the presidential bid of Obi.

Last month, Obi had said part of his plans, if he became president, would be to remove petrol subsidy.

The issue of payment of petrol subsidy has been hotly debated in the public space in recent time due to its negative impact of on government revenue.

Nigeria, it was reported, spent N2.04 trillion to offset subsidy payments in seven months, even as it plans to spend about N6 trillion on subsidy by 2023.

Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, responding to the question in the statement, said it was “atrocious” for Nigeria to buy refined petrol abroad at high cost when the country has crude oil as its natural resources.

Said Wabba: “We believe that an issues-based campaign will help sieve the facts from fiction, address burning national issues, review the performance of those in government at all levels, especially on the delivery of the sustainable development goals, improve Nigeria’s public accountability frameworks, prepare voters behaviour on election day away from the destructive lines of ethno-religious divide and defuse the looming political tension.

“Second, in furtherance of the avowed position of the Nigeria Labour Congress on issues-based campaign in the run-up to the 2023 general election, we wish to state that Nigerian workers through a number of painstaking processes have been able to articulate a Nigerian workers’ charter of demands which the NLC and TUC are using to engage the political process.

“A major demand in the Nigerian workers charter of demands is that our local public refineries must work. We have also demanded that we must stop 100 percent importation of refined petroleum products.

“The NLC and indeed the labour movement in Nigeria has over many decades been vehemently consistent that the only way to address the issue of the so-called petrol subsidies are to get our refineries to work.

“The logic is very simple: it is atrocious to buy from abroad at very expensive prices a product that a country like ours can easily produce at home.

“At the heart of our demand on the management of Nigeria’s mineral resources especially our downstream petroleum sub-sector is the issue of the production economy.

“We believe that the rescue of Nigeria from the current ruinous path of consumption economy to production economy is the only way to resolve Nigeria’s economic nightmares of massive depletion of scarce foreign exchange reserve; continuous devaluation of the naira; significant jobs haemorrhage and destruction, deepening of poverty and downturn in the living standards of our people”.

Wabba further said the congress was determined to ensure the adoption of workers’ charter demands into all political manifestos.

He said this aligned with NLC’s persuasion that issue-based campaigns anchored on the manifesto of political parties should drive Nigeria’s political process.

Added he: “If any political party goes around saying that they plan to sell our refineries, remove subsidies, and further oppress long-suffering Nigerians, they should be ready to defend such stance to Nigerians during the campaigns.

“The NLC, organised labour, and Labour Party position has not changed. It only got amplified”.

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