Labour threatens nation-wide strike over petrol scarcity

Organised labour, on Friday, threatened to embark on strike if the ongoing fuel shortage ravaging the nation extends to next year. 
It, Friday, hailed the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, for directing the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene industry-stakeholders meeting, in a bid to end the ongoing fuel crisis. 
A member of the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, observed, in Kaduna, on Thursday, that the protracted fuel crisis was a reflection of “crisis of corporate governance in the petroleum sector.” 
The bane of downstream sector, he said, was “abysmal absence of accountability, transparency and openness in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria.” 
He said only the parliament can make a difference in “exposing the rot” in the sector. 
Aremu said the Senate leadership, by urging relevant committee members to resume duty, had shown that the legislature was truly “a vent for public grievances, and a useful organ of good governance,” adding that legislators could not be on recess when those who elected them were groaning at  filling stations. 
The labour leader urged the legislators to demand “consequences for the actions and inactions of petroleum sector operators in the product shortage scam.” 
“There is a deep-seated conflict of interest in the downstream sector; regulators are operators, regulators are importers, importers are products hoarders, regulators are also saboteurs. Nigeria and Nigerians need liberation,” he remarked. 
The labour leader, who disclosed that “NNPC is the only public corporation that annually awards its directors long service incentives for no service at all, for non-functioning refineries” called for a “total ban on importation to reinvent domestic refineries and beneficiation to crude oil”. 
Aremu, however, said that if the intervention of the legislature failed to put an end to product shortages, labour might compel all Nigerians to return to street protests, “to force the ruling elite to face up to the challenges of governance of the most populous and promising, but badly governed country in the continent.” 
“The one-month long fuel shortage has further worsened poverty, put productivity on hold. We dare not enter 2018 with this recurring old mess,” he noted. 
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Kabiru Marafa, had disclosed that following the directive of the Senate President, the committee had summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian NationL Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru and other relevant stakeholders in the petroleum sector to a crucial meeting, on Thursday, January 4, 2018. 
While Nigerians await the outcome of the proposed meeting, it is evident that they may have to wait till 2018 before experiencing any possible reprieve as queues at the filling stations continue to get longer.


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