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Labour leaders kick against senate president’s claim on fuel subsidy removal

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
20 January 2022   |   2:47 am
Leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have criticised the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, over comment that President Muhammadu Buhari

[ FILES] A petrol pump nozzle is used to pump petrol at a station. PHOTO: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton<br />

Ask Buhari to clear doubt on removal, insist on Jan. 27 protest in Kano

Leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have criticised the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, over comment that President Muhammadu Buhari was not aware of any plan to remove fuel subsidy in the country.

The labor leaders, who insisted there was no way the President would claim ignorance on the move to remove subsidy, however, urged the senate president to desist from creating confusion in the country.

Making the statement yesterday in Kano during the state congress meeting of NLC, the leaders declared that labour would not accept any strategy of the government to withdraw the fuel subsidy and increase pump price.

Former NLC Deputy President, Comrade Isa Tijani, who noted that except the country is now being run by the Minister of Finance and Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), President Buhari cannot claim to be unaware of the move to withdraw subsidy on fuel.

Tijani further challenged the president to rather come out openly to address Nigerians on government’s stand on fuel subsidy, which the labour leader said remains the only antidote to raging doubt and speculations.

“How could a president of a country in a matter as sensitive as removal of fuel subsidy, when the GMD NNPC confirmed and minister of finance also confirmed the planned removal, only for him to say he was not aware. Are these senior government officials acting on his behalf or outside his directive? Would they have the right to do something without his knowledge, is that possible.

” Let the senate president not come and confuse Nigerians the more because we would not make any move to withdraw the subsidy. And in any case, why wouldn’t the president come out himself to announce that government is not and will not remove the subsidy. If the statement comes from the president as the C in C, we will take it, but any other person, it is no for an answer.

“The GMD NNPC has told us many lies that Nigerians can no longer trust. He said by the middle of 2021, our four refineries would be repaired, but the refineries are not fixed as we speak. They promised to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery, they have burnt some part of it. Government should be able to face the oil cartels by ensuring our refineries are fixed and start working. It is only then that government can talk of removing the subsidy,” Isa noted.

On his part, former NLC General Secretary, Comrade Salisu Mohammad, knocked government for spending billions of naira in the name of maintenance of refineries without result, challenging the President to fulfill his campaign promises on blocking corruption in the country.

Mohammad worried that instead of fixing the moribund refineries to ease the price of locally consumed oil, the present administration has spent billions of dollars on fuel importation while encouraging corrupted endemic cartels to siphon commonwealth in the name of subsidy.

” Yes, I believe the Federal Government is spending more than what they claim on subsidy and that is callously irresponsible. It is callous because Nigeria is the only country that produces oil and is unable to refine its crude for local consumption. We have four refineries rendered in dilapidated conditions and a state of disused.

“The government is allocating a huge amount of money in the name of turning around maintenance, but the refineries are unable to produce a little. And in the last 10 years alone, the government has shank over 9 billion US dollars in the name of turning the refineries around and the expenditure continues.

“Now we continued to send our crude abroad for refining as long as that continues Nigeria will not be able to manage oil price and we would be subjected to the international control price mechanism. The President has promised the country to fix the refineries not only that, he has promised to build a new refinery but he has spent 7 years in government without doing any of the two.

On whether Dangote’s refinery would ease the price crisis when its eventually come on stream, the former scribe of the NLC, warned that those harbouring such thoughts are only having wishful thinking. He believed that Dangote is a businessman who will not subject his venture to any control of the government.

“Dangote is a businessman and he’s running a business. I can assure you the refinery will be operated purely on business standards and no government has the right to tell Dangote to fix the price of oil because it is not only a private business but operating based on international standards.

‘It will be illusionary for anyone to believe or nurse the hope that the Dangote refinery will end the price crisis in Nigeria. What Dangote will do to Nigeria is only to make the price available meaning there will be availability but nobody can dictate the price of oil to him,” Salisu explained.

Meanwhile, NLC Chairman in Kano, Kabiru Ado Minjibir, has declared that there is no going back on the planned protest scheduled for January 27, 2022.