NLC tasks Buhari on alleged corruption in oil, gas secto
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has challenged the in-coming government under the leadership of President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (RTD.) to tackle corruption in the oil and gas sector, especially the alleged subsidy scam.
Speaking in Lagos at the weekend, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba explained that, fuel subsidy cannot be removed totally, “until certain issues are addressed”.
According to him, a lot of challenges are inherent in the system, adding that, if the issues are not addressed, “be rest assured that the problems would remain even if you remove fuel subsidy totally. We were told that the subsidy on kerosene and diesel has been removed”.
Wabba emphasised that, the current scarcity of fuel is deliberate, alleging that, marketers want to make themselves relevant to the incoming administration by creating artificial scarcity of products.
He noted that, government has the responsibility to ensure that the system operates correctly and transparently in order to access the data that would make Nigerians know whether it is better to remove oil subsidy or not.
“But presently, the way the system is being ran is not transparent and we have given them conditions since the past seven years, yet no effort has been made to meet these conditions.
“Government should be able to un-bundle the corruption in the management of the system, especially on how they arrive at the huge amount of money that is being spent daily to subsidise petroleum products. I think a lot of us do not understand that, because, now the price of crude oil has fallen below half of the usual price, our expectation is that there should be a commensurate reduction in the pump price of petrol, but that has not happened.
“In the developed world, where they have similar challenges, there have been substantial reduction in the pump price of fuel, but this has not been done here because of the inherent challenges in our system.
“Whatever that needed to be done to improve the lives of the people must be done”, Wabba said.
He continued, “primarily, we have major challenges in the management of fuel subsidy. I don’t think that is unusual because it is also applicable in other countries, but in Nigeria, the primary issue is the corruption that is inherent in the system.
“If you remove fuel subsidy totally, you would give licence to those people who have monopolised the system to take advantage of the situation and increase the price of fuel arbitrarily, this is what we envisage.
“In year 2006, when we had similar challenges, labour met and gave conditions, which the government was ready to meet then. We said that government must ensure that the four refineries are working within the next four years. Why do you think they prefer to import fuel rather than put the refineries in good shape, it is because some people are actually benefiting from the importation of fuel and this is the major challenge in the sector, it is not just about oil subsidy.
“Nigeria should have the will to develop capacity internally to refine products. We are blessed to have these products in abundance, yet we export crude oil and as a result we export our jobs and this is contradiction. We have been debating this for some years now and there has been no solution, because some people benefit from the corrupt practices. The billions of naira spent on oil subsidy could be used to build refineries.”