As Nigerians continue with panic buying of petroleum products occasioned by what some analysts regard as inconsistent signals from the government, Ayuba Wabba, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused the Federal Government of dancing to the tunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding fuel subsidy removal.
According to Wabba, the reappearance of fuel queues in parts of the country was enough justification that the government was gradually yielding to the advice.
Similarly, some analysts said at the weekend that inconsistency on policy pronouncements on the position of the subsidy and Amina Zakari, finance minister’s acknowledgement of the evils of the subsidy, as well as the pronouncement on the plan to phase it out gradually, amount to policy inconsistency and double speak.
Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director once again gave the advice at the opening of the ongoing World Bank /IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC last week to remove the subsidy and deploy the savings to fix social infrastructure.
She had urged Nigeria to establish Social protection Safety Net to help the government meet the needs of people at the lower cadre of the society.
But Wabba while reacting to the development said the mere fact that the current administration has agreed to the existence of subsidy makes it more absurd, especially when it insisted that subsidy was a conduit pipe for corruption.
The NLC President who spoke on the sidelines of the Nigeria Movement of Solidarity with Cuba, at Labour House, Abuja on Saturday, wondered why Nigeria with its huge mineral resources would sell off its crude to the international community and then begin to debate over pricing when it can revamp it’s refineries to produce for local consumption.
“Many media houses have been amplifying the push down the throat of Nigerians, therefore let me tell our country and government that certainly they should be wary of this prescription.
“Because IMF has recommended that subsidy should be removed, in the first place is there subsidy? It’s a question that we have not been able to answer.
“I want to actually corroborate what the President said years back that subsidy is actually corruption.
“The NLC stands by that position, we can kick subsidy in the butt if we maintain our refineries and it’s not rocket science, very soon we are going to forward a well researched document to the Federal Government on this issue of subsidy.
“Our refineries can be upgraded, nothing is wrong with our refineries, its just conspiracy they are using to ground them down,” he noted.
Friday Ameh, energy analyst told Akelicious at the weekend that it is unfortunate that President Mohammed Buhari’s prescription for assisting the poor by retaining the subsidy is impoverishing the same people, while enriching the mighty, either in government or working for it.
Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) says it has sealed 14 fuel service stations in Sokoto and Kebbi states for selling above control price and suspected diversion of products.
Mr Muhammad Makera, the Zonal Operations Controller of DPR in charge of Sokoto and Kebbi states, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Sokoto that the sanctions were meted between Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11.
He said the department had visited 43 fuel selling stations in Sokoto State, noting that three fuel stations were sealed off for selling above control price and one for suspected diversion of the products.
However, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), have urged Nigerians to stop panicking over fuel scarcity as there is sufficient product.
The duo said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos against the backdrop of the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country.
The association confirmed that about six vessels of imported petrol ordered by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were currently discharging the product, assuring that the corporation has sufficient products.
Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, the National President of IPMAN, told NAN that there was no need for panicking over fuel scarcity, as virtually all the NNPC depots across the states had commence loading of petroleum product by marketers.
“Marketers are currently loading petrol in Makurdi, Kano, Enugu, Aba,Yola, Suleja, Kaduna, Ejigbo, Mosinmi, Ibadan and other depots across the country.
“’The shortfall in distribution was due to slow pace of product importation and hitches at the jetty which had been addressed.
Also, the Ekiti and Ondo state governments on Saturday warned owners and operators of filling stations in the state to desist from hoarding of petroleum products or face the consequences.