By Wale Igbintade
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
ABUJA—The Nigeria Labour Congress yesterday warned that any further increases in the cost of petroleum products would be resisted by Nigerians. It also accused President Olusegun Obasanjo of responsibility for the current long queues at filling stations. The Congress also warned the Presidency to weigh its utterances pointing out that the President’s statement was responsible for the current long queues at filling stations across the country. In a statement issued by the Congress and signed by the General Secretary, Comrade John Odah, noted that the recent statement of the President that Nigerians would continue to be subjected to petroleum products scarcity unless they accepted higher prices was unfortunate. The Congress told President Obasanjo that if he could not better the lots of Nigerians he should not worsen it adding that the statement of the President was a confirmation that Federal Government was not sincere about the agreement reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress on July 8, 2003, in which the cost of petrol was pegged at N34 per litre.
"Nigerian people have demonstrated that fuel pricing can not continue to be subjected to the whims of the leadership. Government has a compelling moral duty to reckon with the factor of affordability. Therefore, the agreed price levels of N34 for PMS, N32 for Kerosene and diesel remain the absolute maximum that the Nigeria people will pay".According to the Congress, it was a shame that Government after expending hundreds of millions of dollars yet it was unable to put the four refineries back to work. It noted that the problem was further compounded by the Federal Government adoption of importation stressing that the song of importation rather than local refinery was a celebration of incompetence by the Government.
The statement reminded Government that Nigerians were still counting their losses from the previous increase and its high handed management of the last General Strike especially the killings in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt respectively. The Congress advised the President to find the political will to tame the selfish and unpatriotic forces pushing the administration toward another confrontation with the people saying " Mr. President must provide leadership and give the nation an enduring solution that that should be anchored on the rehabilitation of the refineries".