Fuel Subsidy Removal: Ohanaeze Chides NLC Over Proposed Strike

The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has accused the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, of sleeping on duty over the issue of fuel subsidy removal.

Ohanaeze youths’ position was presented on Monday at a press conference addressed in Enugu by its National President, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike.

Okwu said it was curious that the NLC looked the other way when the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari refused to make a budget for subsidy beyond June, 2023.

He said the NLC was supposed to start their fight with the Buhari government but looked away in pretension only to start fighting the President Bola Tinubu administration.

The group said the current government should not be blamed for the subsidy removal.

He recalled that: “prior to the 2023 general election, all the major presidential candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, promised one thing in common- removal of fuel subsidy. They all said it was fraud and must be made away with.

“The immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari actually ended the subsidy regime by not budgeting for it beyond June, 2023.

“It is curious that the former president did not have the political will to end the subsidy regime but laid it as a landmine for the new administration.

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“If not, how could it stay in power for eight solid years without reviving even one out of the four refineries in the country? What happened to all the billions of naira spent on so-called turnaround maintenance of the refineries?

“We demand that one of the first steps this administration must take is to probe into the spendings on the refineries in the past eight years. It should also take a step further in unravelling the fraud called subsidy.

“Having said this, we also want to observe that we view the opposition to the removal of subsidy by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, with great suspicion.

“We are not unaware of the harsh economic realities occasioned by the subsidy removal, but the truth is that judging by antecedents, we don’t trust the labour unions in the country.

“On several occasions, they have failed the masses when it mattered most. Under the immediate past administration of Buhari, they always started a fight but chickened out at the last minute, leaving the masses to their fate.

“Nothing has changed- they are at it again this time, trying to use the subsidy removal to cash out as usual.

“But our stand is that they should stop deceiving the gullible public; all of us cannot be fooled at the same time.”

The Igbo group also described the independent marketers and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, as the worst enemies of the citizens.

“We find it rather strange that a few hours after President Tinubu announced that the subsidy was gone, they promptly adjusted their pump price to over N500.000. Isn’t this the same subsidy that was budgeted for till the end of June?

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“Why are the citizens now being taxed twice? So where is the money budgeted for subsidy for this month of June? The NNPCL and the independent marketers should answer this question.

“We urged the Tinubu government to also include this area as it probes all the fraudulent activities of shylock petroleum dealers,” he stated.

On the way forward, Okwu said, “whereas we support the government completely on subsidy removal, we advise that it should be handled with caution.

“We support the government because the nation cannot continue to subsidise fraud. It is unfortunate that the outgone administration laid such a landmine, but with a rightful mindset and focused leadership, we are certain that the present government will navigate over it.

“What we expect the government to do at this time is to further engage major stakeholders, including the youths, religious and traditional leaders who are closer to the people.

“The government should also ask the marketers to revert to the old price till the end of June when subsidy will end. This is the right thing to do in this instance.

“The government must also checkmate the nefarious activities of petroleum marketers who had always sabotaged government efforts. They will do everything to ensure that the policy fails, thereby continuing to milk the nation dry.

“These are the same people who have made sure that none of the refineries will work. It is high time the government put all measures on ground to stop them from sabotaging the economy.

“We also urge the federal government to plunge part of the money that will be saved from the subsidy withdrawal into reviving at least two of the four refineries. This will help further in the reduction of pump price of fuel.

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“In addition, more licences should also be granted to individuals and corporate organisations who may wish to build refineries.

“Finally, we make bold to say that removal of subsidy is a good decision for the overall interest of the country and the NLC should not be a cog in the wheel of progress.”

Credit: Daily Post


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