Thursday, 17 December 2015

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday indicated
that it has started mobilising its relevant organs, civil
society groups, organisations and professional
bodies against plans by the Federal Government to
revert the pump price of petrol to N97 from next
year.
This followed media reports quoting the Minister of
State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, as
saying at the National Assembly that the government
might change the price of petrol as well as adopt a
strategy of gradual removal of subsidy.
The NLC accused the minister of being an agent of
those who were working to undermine the President
Muhammadu Buhari administration over his
constant insistence on the removal of subsidy on
petroleum products.
Its President, Ayuba Wabba, who gave the workers'
position at a symposium to mark the 10th
anniversary of Comrade Chuma Ubani's death, said if
Buhari wants to succeed in his programmes, he must
be wary of the likes of Kachikwu.
Wabba added that the minister constantly showed his
preference for subsidy removal right from when he
was appointed the Nigeria National Petroleum
Corporation's (NNPC) Group Managing Director, even
when the President had made it clear that he was yet
to be convinced that the ordinary citizen could afford
increased prices of petroleum products.
The NLC president said:
"At the Senate, the Minister of State on Petroleum
Resources talked about 'gradual removal strategy',
which, he said, would begin with the return to the
pump price of N97 per litre from the current N87.
Mr. Kachikwu threatened of the possibility of the
Buhari government considering total withdrawal of
fuel subsidy.
"According to him, 'the government doesn't need to
fund subsidy. There is energy around the removal
of subsidy. Most Nigerians talked to today would
say that's where to go'.
"With the figures being disclosed as the amount
our political elite have stolen in the name of
security, but which are used to 'consult' spiritualists
etc, listening to Mr. Kachikwu talk about the so-
called most Nigerians that they talked to wanting
fuel subsidy to be removed, one can only wonder
out loud who these Nigerians that the Kachikwus of
this world are talking to.
"These Nigerians certainly won't be the millions of
downtrodden mass of Nigerians who weathered
every odd, including threat of violence to vote out the
PDP- led government and embraced on March 28,
2015, the change agenda they believed Muhammadu
Buhari symbolised.
"The NLC wishes to state without equivocation that
Kachikwu represents the same forces that have
misled past government on the issue of removal of
subsidy and deregulation of the downstream
operations of the petroleum industry.
"While the position of congress on these issues
clearly remains unchanged, we make bold to
however caution President Buhari to be wary of the
likes of Kachikwu, whose sweet tongues on the issue
of subsidy removal had derailed former Presidents
from achieving their lofty goals.
"Now that the Buhari government may have, through
Kachikwu, sent the message to Nigerians on the path
it wishes to take on the issue of petroleum subsidy,
congress will meet its relevant organs, hold
consultations with civil society and other
organisations and professional bodies and carry out
the instruction as we will be mandated."
Wabba added: "Against the background of the
serious national crisis we are currently going
through, caused by the mismanagement and
recklessness of our political elite since the return of
civilian rule in 1999, there is always the temptation to
ask whether the struggle for democracy was indeed
worth it after all.
"However, I think that no matter the level of our
frustration, we should not allow the question to be
posed in this way. In modern times, there is hardly
any alternative to democracy. What I think we ought
to be questioning is the quality of our democracy and
what we, labour and civil society actors should be
doing to improve the quality of this democracy.
"We should rightly be addressing the question of how
the working class and its allies can participate in the
struggle for capturing political power so that we are
able to project the programmes and the visions of
the working class in rebuilding our nation.
"We must renew our determination to enthrone
accountability by the political class in our country.
We need to ensure that we apply maximum pressure
on government so that all the ongoing disclosures of
massive pillages and crimes against Nigerian people
do not go unpunished."

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