The Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), has warned that the unending scarcity and outrageous prices of petroleum products across the country may lead to mass revolt, saying “there is an extent to which the people can endure the current hardship occasioned by the scarcity of refined petroleum products”.
In an issued statement by the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, titled: “A Crisis Foretold! Local Refining of Petroleum is the Answer”, the Congress contended that the current scarcity and high cost of diesel and aviation fuel, besides the Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol, has exposed the failure of deregulation and importation of products.
According to NLC, “There is a limit the people can stomach prevailing disruptions caused by petrol scarcity especially increased fares and associated dislocations in land, air, rail and water transportation and indeed hiccups in the manufacturing sector, all linked to the current scarcity of refined petroleum products in the country”.
The NLC insisted that only local refining of petroleum products is the answer to stable products prices and uninterrupted supplies of petroleum products across the country, saying “It is with great pain, sadness and alarm that the Nigeria Labour Congress observes the continued acute scarcity of petroleum products at different filling stations in the country. A crisis that started with the supply of sub-standard fuel has now degenerated into a persisting scarcity of not only PMS but also other petroleum products such as diesel and aviation Fuel. It is deeply disturbing that motorists, Keke operators, bike riders and other users of petrol products now spend incredibly long hours at filling stations before being serviced, or sent away empty-handed. This is indeed a daylight premiere of unending episodes of a nightmare.
“Currently, a litre of aviation fuel sells as high as N580, while a litre of diesel goes as high as N625. In many parts of the country, a litre of PMS goes as high as N220. The socio-economic strain of both the scarcity and the high cost of petroleum products on ordinary Nigerians and manufacturing firms is best imagined. In many parts of Nigeria, manufacturing has ground to a halt. The current haemorrhage induced by the prevailing scarcity of petroleum products has very grave concomitant effects on the already parlous unemployment and security situation in our country.
“At the root of the current pain being faced by millions of Nigerians all over the country is the monstrously defective policy of nearly 100% importation of refined petroleum products. Nigeria is about the only OPEC country trapped in the quagmire of complete dependence on foreign refineries for products it has the capacity to produce locally. This is a most unfortunate commentary on our sovereignty.
“With the current surge in the price of crude oil, we urge the Federal Government to make judicious use of the bumper harvest of petro-dollars to fix our oil refineries. We must re-think Nigeria’s hydrocarbon as a strategic asset for sustainable wealth-creation and development.
“Consequent on the foregoing, the NLC cautions that there is an extent to which the people can endure the current hardship occasioned by the scarcity of refined petroleum products.
The NLC president added that “This scarcity of refined petroleum products in our country must be treated as a national emergency. A stitch in time might still save nine!”