A FORMER President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has stated that the only solution to the country’s lingering fuel crisis is for the refineries to begin production.
Ayuba spoke during the ongoing protest by the organised labour in Abuja on Wednesday, August 2.
He blamed the crisis on the few elites deliberately refusing to fix the refineries.
“It has been a vicious cycle, and it will continue to be a vicious cycle and will continue to affect our economy and therefore government must come up with three plans immediate, medium and long-term plans; I have not seen that on the table.
“It’s a fire brigade approach, it’s a weak pill that will leave only pain for now, but the pain will remain with us perpetually.
“What will address this issue is, is actually the issue of production, but the elites, not more than 10% of them, don’t want production; they want importation because why they benefit from importation, this is the real issue, and therefore we must insist, we must continue to insist that our refineries must work. Those elites must tell us when our refinery will work,” Ayuba stated.
He said past governments have promised to fix the refineries to no avail.
“They told us if we are refining, the price will not be more than, the price will not be more than N8 per litre; that is the last solution that can resolve this issue.”
He claimed that the palliatives promised by President Bola Tinubu will only serve as a temporary solution and urged the government to look more into the fuel price increase issue.
“Here we are today in the same vicious cycle, and Nigerians are suffering, we are suffering, every worker on fixed wages is feeling the impact, I didn’t see how the palliatives will address this problem because the palliative is only a temporary measure, but the issue of the price increase will be a permanent solution.
“I am telling you, once the exchange rate goes up and continues to go up, the price will increase; once the price of crude oil at the international market goes up, they will continue to increase because these are the two variables,” Ayuba added.
The ICIR reported that the protests declared by organised labour, comprising the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), over economic challenges in the country occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy commenced in Abuja on Wednesday, August 2.
On Wednesday morning, NLC President Joe Ajaero told journalists at the Unity Fountain in Abuja that the protests have also commenced in other states nationwide.
Ajaero said the Police have tried to stop the protests in some states.
But the labour leader vowed that nothing will stop the exercise.
“The protest is on; it has taken off in all the states of the federation, barring some constraints, including police efforts to equally stop it in some areas.
“But to be candid with you, nothing is stopping the protest. Not even an overture or promise of commitment or offer from the government. So I don’t understand why people feel that it will not hold. The protest is on, and it will hold,” Ajaero said.
The NLC President did not clearly state how long the protests would last. He suggested that the demonstration could continue for as long as the Congress decides.
Ajaero noted that the protest was necessary because negotiations between the Federal Government and labour have not yielded any positive results.
“It is equally in our own enlightened self-interest, based on the interest of the state, to determine whether the protest will be for today or tomorrow or next or till thy kingdom come.
“It is not by mere using forces to stop people from expressing their views.
“So we are here for the protest and to make a statement to Nigerians that since we started even negotiations, there is nothing we have in our hands,” he said.
The protesters, including the NLC and TUC affiliate unions, gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, where the protest kicked off on Wednesday.
The acting Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, had on Tuesday, August 1, warned labour against embarking on protests that could be hijacked by hoodlums.
Egbetokun said the warning was issued due to recent unpleasant experiences with such protests in most of the country’s main cosmopolitan cities.
A reporter with the ICIR
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