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Fuel Scarcity: Last One Year Has Been Excruciating – Osifo



Fuel Scarcity: Last One Year Has Been Excruciating – Osifo

President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has said that the last one year of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration has been excruciating for Nigerians.

Osifo, who doubles as the President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), urged the Federal government to address and find a lasting solution to the current fuel scarcity in the country.

Recall that while delivering his inaugural address about a year ago, President Tinubu had announced the removal of fuel subsidies. This had led to an astronomical rise in the price of petroleum products, which in turn caused the prices of goods and services to shoot up uncontrollably.

Speaking exclusively to our correspondent on the sidelines of the 2024 Workers Day celebration in Abuja, Osifo, who said there was no way of knowing when the resurgence of fuel scarcity and long queues at filling stations would come to an end, lamented that Nigerians have suffered enough.

He said: I will not be able to tell you when it will end because I think the NNPCL and those at the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) should be able to tell us when it will end. The same way you are asking questions is the same way we on our path are also asking questions.

“We’ve had some conversations with the leaders of NNPCL and the leaders of NMDPRA and they have given us assurances and we said Nigerians are tired of assurances, Nigerians have suffered enough. The last one year has been excruciating that all we want is action, not rhetorics.”

Meanwhile, President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Tom- my Etim Okon, has asked the Federal Government to, without delay, unbundle the “cabal” at the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, if it was serious in addressing the scarcity of petroleum products resulting in long queues at filling stations across the country.

Comrade Etim who also spoke to our correspondent on the sidelines of the 2024 Workers Day celebration, said that the labour movement had envisaged the current issues bedeviling the country, when the current government decided to remove the subsidy in petroleum products without first consulting and involving critical stakeholders in the industry.

“Everybody saluted the government for taking a bold initiative, what do they say about this? We experienced this in August 1994 during the military era and over 30 years later, we are still experiencing queues at filling stations and the government doesn’t have a clear answer to this question of fuel queue.

“We were given hope that when subsidy is removed, we will have avails of fuel supplies, and that the interplay of the market supply and demand will come to the fore, but this situation since the past one week has become a concern, most especially where the income of the workers remains static, and the government is not in a hurry to enact the minimum wage law.

“As at today, after queuing for about five hours at filling stations you end up buying fuel for about N800. It is unspeakable. “The government needs to work on the talk; the cabal in NNPC needs to be unbundled because there is no other moral justification. If you continue to do the same thing all the time and you expect that you are going to get a different result, we are far from it.

“The public outcry about the NNPC whether it’s limited or not, as far as those cabals in that sector remains unshakable there is no way we can address this situation. “There are people with good ideas, fresh ideas, which they inject and call on Mr. President to beam a searchlight on that sector in order to bring reform and succour to the people who are suffering. The masses are suffering, the workers are suffering, the informal economy is suffering, no light, no fuel.

Who are you saving the money for? Okon who queried government’s style of saving money for the country, expressed disappointment over government’s failure to keep to its bargain of putting certain measures in place to cushion the effect of its hasty decision to totally remove fuel subsidy.

“The government says they are saving over a trillion naira in a month, but can they come out clearly to let us know if they are still paying subsidy or not? But they cannot convince us because they have already told us that they have removed fuel subsidy and we have seen the impact on us.

“There is nothing to cushion the effect, not even the CNG buses and the NNPC is giving us story that it is logistic problem. What kind of logistic problem are we talking about? If they are bereft of ideas, let them excuse themselves, withdraw their services and let people come with ideas so that we can look around to tinker and ensure that proper policies are put in place for smooth running of the petroleum sub-sector and the economy,” he said Okon, President of the largest union in the Nigerian labour movement, warned the government to urgently find lasting solutions to the fuel crisis or risk a revolution.

“When you look at what happened in Sudan today, the price of bread goes for about N2000. It was the increase in the price of bread in 1980 that Sudan came to revolution,” he said. Also speaking, Social Mobilisation Officer, Actionaid Nigeria, Seun Akioye, said the only solution to the fuel crisis in Nigeria was for the moribund refineries in the country to work.

“What Nigerians know is that fuel scarcity in a country that produces the fuel is unacceptable. How long are we going to wait before our refineries work? The last administration made all of their permutations on Dangote refinery but the company keeps shifting the goalposts. What is the role of the government?

“I remember there was a time when the former vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, was talking about modular refineries, is it too difficult for the government to find a lasting solution to this problem? “One solution that is very clear is let our refineries work. If our refineries work, we won’t have all these issues but our refineries are not working because of corruption,” he said.