Organised labour on Friday threatened nationwide protests if the intervention of the National Assembly failed to arrest the fuel crisis that has bedeviled the country for two weeks.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in a statement issued in Kaduna and signed by a member of its National Executive Committee (NEC), Comrade Issa Aremu, said it might compel Nigerians to return to street protests as they had done in the past “to force the ruling elites to face up to the challenges of governance of the most populous, promising but badly governed country on the continent.”
“The one month long fuel shortage has further worsened poverty (and) put productivity on hold. We dare not enter the new year with this recurring old mess,” the statement said.
It, however, commended the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, for directing the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene industry stakeholders meeting in a bid to end the crisis.
Aremu observed that the protracted fuel crisis was a reflection of “crisis of corporate governance in the petroleum sector.”
According to the labour leader, the bane of downstream sector was “abysmal absence of accountability, transparency and openness in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria, adding that only the parliament can make a difference in exposing the rot in the sector.”
Aremu said the Senate leadership, by urging relevant committee members to resume duty, has shown that the legislature is truly “a vent for public grievances, a “useful organ of public opinion” adding that legislators cannot be in recess when those who elected them are groaning in filling stations.
The labour leader urged the legislators to demand for “consequences for the actions and inactions of petroleum sector operators in the product shortage scam”.
He said: “There is a deep seated conflict of interest in the downstream sector; regulators are operators, regulators are importers, importers are products hoarders, regulators are also saboteurs. Definitely, we have a sector capture in our hands. Nigeria and Nigerians need liberation.”
The Labour leader, who disclosed that the NNPC is the only public corporation that annually awards its directors long service incentives for no service done and for non-functioning refineries, called for a “total ban on importation to reinvent domestic refineries and benefaction to crude oil.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, had disclosed that following the directive of the Senate President, the Committee had summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru and other relevant stakeholders in the petroleum sector to a crucial meeting on January 4, 2018.