With the rising speculations of another hike on the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) by the federal government making the rounds across the country, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has warned the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) not to attempt another hike as it will result in dire consequences.
In its reaction to the speculations of another round of increase, the TUC in a statement jointly signed by Comrades Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Barrister Simeso Amachree, President and Acting Secretary General, respectively, on Tuesday, condemned the idea, saying that it views a recent statement credited to the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Department of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, that “the nation’s harsh business environment may make it difficult to sustain the current pump price of petrol,” as highly insensitive and an open invitation to a revolution in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum last year increased the pump price of PMS from N87 to N145. The government, had, while justifying the increase, said the subsisting subsidy on petrol was not sustainable.
However, following the increase, organized labour unions were locked in a bitter confrontation with the government over the issue until both the government and the unions agreed to a truce, but leaving the Nigerian masses to continue to bear the brunt of the price hike.
According to the union, “Congress is surprised that the management of an organisation as important as the NNPC, regularly contradicts itself, with members thereof speaking from both sides of the mouth,” saying, the offices of the Minister of State for Petroleum and Group Managing Director of the Corporation, had earlier said the current price is not sustainable, but assured that there is nothing to worry about.”
This recent comment by Kyari, TUC noted, corroborates the public’s suspicion that they were already nursing the idea even at a time when Nigerians have been stretched beyond acceptable limits, adding that the consequent revolution following any further increase will not even spare those behind this touted increment.
“Ours is a country of paradoxes. We export crude and import refined products. Our refineries are still producing far below installed capacity, even with all the reforms said to have been done by this administration. Sadly, all efforts of organised labour to help by advocating speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) have hit the rocks. The only antidote consistently offered by our NNPC big-wigs to the challenges in the oil and gas sector is fuel hike. How unfortunate,” TUC regretted.
According to the statement, it is regrettable that “we care little about those whose responsibility it is to make the sector optimally functional, be it the NNPC or the marketers or whoever,” adding however that the position of the Congress is “NO FURTHER PRICE HIKE.”
”We shall not tolerate infliction of more pain on Nigerians; we kick against closure of more factories; and we hold the government responsible for insecurity, crime and other vices. They should stop telling us they feel our pain when all they do is to make it worse!
While urging the government to discard the idea, the TUC warned that, “We wish to warn and remind all those proposing the ill-advised move that in 2012 the ruling party, then, in the opposition, had told the world that there was no subsidy on oil. We therefore wonder where this magical “subsidy” that is now being withdrawn by the government comes from? We reject the increment because it will translate to unbearable increase in the cost of living in all spheres of life. Failure to adhere to the voice of reason will lead to serious industrial crisis.”