By ANDREW OJIEZEL
As many states in the country are currently experiencing scarcity of petroleum products, the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has accused Federal Government of blackmailing Nigerians to make them accept higher fuel prices and pressurising members of National Assembly to discontinue the probe into the fraud in the oil and gas industry.
It noted that government is deliberately creating artificial scarcity of fuel across the country as a way of making the product very difficult for Nigerians to get whereby they will accept further increment of price as alternative.
The Acting General Secretary of the union, Comrade Owei Lakemfa stated that the scarcity which is an unholy alliance between major oil marketers and various government agencies would compel Nigerians to agree to any price after much struggle to get it.
As members of the National Assembly are currently digging into the alleged monumental fraud that have eaten deep into the foundation of oil and gas industry, oil marketers, said NLC have been using all means to discourage the probe, saying “The claim by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria that the patriotic probe into the corruption-ridden oil sector by the NASS has created ‘uncertainties’ and loss of confidence by the financial institutions which has translated into fuel scarcity, is ridiculous. Banks cannot be scared to work with honest businesses as the marketers are claiming, and the country cannot be blackmailed to allow fraudsters continue to dominate the oil sector.
It is unacceptable to the NLC that marketers and the Government will engineer to push the price of a litre of petrol (PMS) back to N140 under the guise of fuel scarcity. We also assure the National Assembly that Nigerians are solidly behind its probe into the age long theft of our oil wealth and the fleecing of the country through the inflation of the subsidy on fuel. The future of our country lies in our ability, determination and the political will to tackle the endemic corruption that has become cancerous and is threatening our very existence.”
Wondering why oil marketers are trying to be the complainants and prosecutors in the matter concerning the probe, NLC stressed, “It is ironic that the very people who contributed to the present state of affairs in the oil industry are those claiming to be sanitizing it by setting up a plethora of committees allegedly to cleanse the industry. These committees which are mainly political patronage are creating a new bureaucracy in government and driving up the cost of governance contrary to President Goodluck Jonathan's January 16, 2012 pledge to the country that the cost of governance will be reduced.
We again reiterate that the Jonathan administration has no alternative but to live up to its promise that Nigerians will richly reap the dividends of the fuel price hike. The claims by some government officials that the mass protests organised by labour and its allies that led to the reduction of a litre of PMS from N140 to N97 had made the fulfilment of the promise impossible, is childish. Nigerians are not interested in excuses; they demand and deserve good governance and the dividends of democracy.”