The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has faulted the planned move to limit fuel imports to few operators in the oil and gas industry, describing it as monopolistic and a deliberate attempt to frustrate the challenges the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is intended to solve.
In a statement on Tuesday signed by its president, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, and secretary-general, Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, the congress said the market should be left open if the government truly wants to be sincere in addressing the problem of the sector.
“The labour chiefs are surprised, dismayed and irritated by the conspiracy to waste another opportunity to fix the sector. From the lawmakers’ position and body language, one could infer they are serving the interest of some few individuals to the detriment of the over 97 per cent of the country’s population, but the Congress will not allow that to happen,” the statement read partly.
It said the country cannot afford to continue toying with the oil and gas sector as it remains the only major source of foreign exchange.
The labour leaders urged the lawmakers to rise up and provide true leadership instead of serving the interest of few capitalists.
“It is high time ‘these principalities and powers’ removed their knees from the neck of Nigeria and Nigerians,” it stated.
The Congress said it is not against the companies holding refining licences, but that the sector should be left open so the destiny of the country will not be in the hands of a few individuals.
TUC stated further: “The pertinent questions are: how well are the products and markets controlled by these same few people doing? Why are the lawmakers failing to see the large number of companies and employment that could be created when more investors are allowed to invest?
“Are these people (lawmakers) not disturbed by the unprecedented insecurity challenge in the country caused by unemployment? How long are these people going to continue to exploit the country?
“There is no sugarcoating the matter, the capitalist trajectory in Nigeria is morally, economically, and legally wrong as it tends to impoverish Nigeria and Nigerians. It hinders the country’s financial and economic progress because it transfers a huge chunk of public wealth to ‘favoured businessmen’.
“This is not only treacherous but also a serious form of corruption. We urge them to use their money for the social benefits of all; after all, they enjoy FOREX largesse financed by Nigerians’ hard-earned oil revenue.”
It therefore called on the government, especially the legislative arm, to rescind their decision immediately as it would only worsen the problem it is meant to solve.