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Labour Unions in Nigeria List Conditions for Subsidy Removal

Several leaders of labour unions in Nigeria met on Tuesday 18th January, 2022 in Abuja, and have generated a list of conditions that would allow the unions support the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

Some officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria as well as other associations, were present in Abuja for the Annual General Meeting and Inauguration of the new National Executive Committee for the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.

Quadri Olaleye, the National President of the Trade Union Congress, placed the blame for the emerging energy crisis solely on the government; he stated that it was due to their incompetence and corruption.

He said that Nigeria is the only OPEC member country that is dependent on importation for over 90% of the refined petroleum products which it consumes.

He also stated that the issue of fuel subsidy and the hiking of fuel price was a recurring and prominent topic in Nigeria.

“Nigeria has a total of five refineries across the country of which four are owned and managed by the government, and one by NDPR (Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Limited).

“It might interest you to know that none of the government-owned refineries is functioning, yet in the past 10 years alone, the government has wasted about $9.5bn for turnaround maintenance of the moribund refineries.” Quadri Olaleye said.

He explained that if the removal of fuel subsidy would generate a positive outcome, the Trade Union Congress was not in opposition of it. He stated that the Union was instead questioning what the government had to offer subsequent to the removal.

Comrade Quadri Olaleye established that the government has claimed to remove fuel subsidy in the past, and asked how what has been removed already would be removed again.

“Will there be construction and the utilization of modular refineries as the government has previously promised and failed to deliver? Will there be a rehabilitation of existing moribund refineries?

“What will the government do to put an end to dependence on imported fuel? It is imperative to note these questions because we need adequate answers on what the government has to offer as failed promises from the government have become the order of the day.” He said.

The Trade Union Congress insisted that if the subsidy was removed eventually, the government needed to engage in more profitable expenditures instead of embarking on projects that end up generating loss.

Comrade Quadri Olaleye said that modular refineries and functioning refineries need to be established.

“The moribund refineries must be active and we must put an end to the counterproductive acts of importing petroleum products when we can refine here and sell at a competitive price.”

He stated that the country had the potential to meet the demands and also to diversify like advanced countries, but the current political class does not desire it to be so.

He ended by saying that if the demands are not met there will be prompt retaliation by the organized labour.

Debo Ahmed, the National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, also voiced the associations thoughts on the matter.

“We are in support of subsidy removal but there are some conditions that we have that should be met, such as the availability of products, proximity of supply, and other related issues.

“What we would love to see is that the government makes sure that most of these moribund refineries are on the ground and functioning.

“If most of these refineries are working, it will be easy for the implementation of subsidy removal, because products will not be subjected to foreign exchange.” Debo Ahmed said.

He stated that the Unions want the government to make sure that the refineries are working and the product is readily available and easily accessible.

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