NGF, Labour Question NNPC’s Fuel Subsidy ‘Removal Agenda’
The Nigeria Governors Forum and the Nigeria Labour Congress has queried the motives of subsidy administrations, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
This is according to a statement signed by NGF spokesperson Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo.
According to the statement, the NGF and NLC agreed, after a meeting this week, that the “lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds accrued therein.”
NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, noted that action must be taken to ensure that Nigerians get direct benefits from subsidy and not just a few wealthy individuals and their cronies.
“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Fayemi said at the meeting.
Read the NGF’s full statement:
As a sequel to its meeting of the 19th of January the NGF, yesterday, met with the leadership of the NLC, led by its president Comrade Ayuba Waba, to deliberate on the fuel subsidy removal which both groups believe is a necessary action that the country must deal with now or in the nearest future.
The meeting which was held at the NGF secretariat in Maitama Abuja, brokered a partnership between the NGF and the NLC, as both parties agreed that the lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds accrued therein.
Delivering his opening remarks at the meeting also attended by the TUC president and a host of other leaders of organized Labour in the country, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi argued that the nation’s economy is at the precipice and that it has become necessary for the two groups to carefully verify all of NNPC’s estimates to ensure that whatever action is taken on subsidy, it would be the people that get direct benefits and not a few wealthy individuals and their cronies in the country.
Dr Fayemi told the Labour leaderships that subsidy removal has remained an on-gong conversation not just among governors but the country at large and emphasized that Governors cannot but be part of the solution providers in this onerous task that is confronting the nation.
The Ekiti State Governor further stated that “there are raging questions of accountability associated with subsidy removal in the country and observed that the NGF and the NLC can jointly work together to proffer solutions that heal the economy and provide succour to the Nigerian people.”
The NGF chairman who led a delegation of Governors Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, to the meeting stressed that governors cannot ignore the economics of petroleum, arguing that all the countries surrounding Nigeria including Niger, Mali, Cameroun and Ghana have their fuel pump price at the equivalent of a US dollar, arguing that Nigeria has a pump price that is far less than a dollar and is uncomfortable with the removal of subsidy until the challenge of what the NNPC is telling the country is confronted frontally.
“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Dr Fayemi declared.
On the part of the states, Dr Fayemi stated that only about eight states are benefitting directly from the subsidy while all the others have to contend with the situation on their own.
The Governor of Ekiti State also insisted that the partnership with the NLC must confront the perennial issue of palliatives for the common man towards cushioning the effects of subsidy removal on the citizenry stating that “not tackling the problem now is tantamount to postponing the evil day”.
“Finding succour for the ordinary Nigerian at this time is absolutely imperative and necessary now more than ever,” the NGF Chairman emphasised.
One of the asks, which formed the terms of convening the meeting was to also plead with Labour to jettison their decision to embark on what they referred to as a mega-strike and join hands with Governors to consider the dimensions at play on the subsidy removal palaver because Governors through their internal mechanisms had already found out that what is paid is egregiously higher than what is actually being declared by the country’s petroleum industry managers.
Commenting, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who usually serves the NGF as its shining light on economic issues, on his part warned that we have a choice of continuing to behave like Father Christmas (Santa Claus) or take concrete actions on a problem that is permanently with us rather than throwing away N3tr on subsidy.
Governor Obaseki suggested that the nation can, in the interim, increase productivity to reduce imports and create jobs. He also emphasised that the country would do well to revamp the power sector, which is virtually comatose because without power, we will continue to throw millions of our people into unemployment, and ultimately, poverty, reminding all present that we should know that we have a country to manage.
The Governor of Plateau state, Rt. Hon Simon Bako Lalong who like Governor Obaseki also joined the meeting virtually recalled that the NGF had spent three years on this matter because we cannot continue with subsidising petroleum products. He stated that we must find options and create opportunities that address the hardships that stare our people in the face.
Lalong volunteered that the painstaking work that led to the solutions that the NGF was highlighting took a year to script together and warned therefore that the fact that we are sitting here with Labour to resolve this contending issue does not mean that as we leave the table we should go to sleep. Instead, Governor Lalong said the teams from the two groups should immediately set out to work to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
This meeting took place barely an hour before the NLC announced the suspension of its mega-strike, as he disclosed to the governors that their committee had consulted widely and decided to call it off before arriving at the NGF secretariat.
Both Comrade Ayuba Waba and the TUC president stressed their lack of appreciation of the trust deficit that characterised previous negotiations and wondered why the subsidy issue had always been shrouded in lack of transparency on the part of government.
The unionists argued that the conflicting figures that always came from the managers of the petroleum sector had always tended towards inefficiency which have remained, to the people and to Labour, completely objectionable