NLC TACKLES SANUSI OVER CALL FOR PETROLEUM SUBSIDY REMOVAL
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday warned the Federal Government against yielding to pressures to remove the subsidy on petroleum products, saying it would not be in the interest of the masses.
The organised labour while reacting to a statement credited to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that only a cabal in the oil and gas sector were benefiting from the huge sums spent as subsidy and should therefore be scrapped.
The congress in a statement signed by its Information Secretary, Onah Iduh, said the comments of the CBN boss amounted to an admission of failure on the part of the authorities to deal with the cabal and therefore, should not visit the sins of the cabal on the majority of Nigerians who are struggling to make a living.
He wondered why Mallam Sanusi, who smashed a similar cabal in the banking industry, who frittered away depositors' money, could now be advising government to take an action that would jeopardise the wellbeing of majority of Nigerians rather than tackling the cabal head-long. Labour called on President Goodluck Jonathan to disregard the purported advice by the CBN governor or of any other group or government agency urging him to impose anti-people policies such as subsidy withdrawal and deregulation.
'This is not the time to put additional burden on the shoulders of already overburdened Nigerians,' it noted.
The NLC said it would not have bothered to respond to the call by the CBN governor, but for the fact that a comment from the governor of the CBN, which basically, is a key artery in economic and fiscal policies of the nation, and particularly from someone of Mallam Sanusi's pedigree, commands response in order to put things in their proper perspective.
It argued that the reason it had consistently opposed the twin policies of removal of subsidy and deregulation over the years was because the arguments usually advanced by government only take cognisance of market fundamentals without due regard to the social and economic implications on majority of Nigerians, the supposed target of subsidy.
'Is it the responsibility of the poor, helpless and insecured Nigerian masses to check the excesses of a so-called cabal or that of the government with all its might symbolised in institutions such as the judiciary, the police and other security outfits as well as the core statutory agencies in the oil sector to ensure efficiency?
'Is it not simply an admission of failure or complicity of government if it consistently pushes the argument that a major economic policy such as subsidy is being sabotaged without the same government not seen to have taken any step to arrest such criminality? In a civilised society, governed by laws and codes of moral decency, are these shortcomings not sufficient for such a government to resign, if it openly admits that it is incapable of handling certain miscreants (no matter how highly placed) manipulating a core policy against the overall national interest? It queried.
Labour maintained that what the government needed in the oil and gas industry was the will, commitment and courage to frontally confront the numerous challenges in the oil sector, the greatest of which is corruption.
'Mallam Sanusi's call poses a terrifying challenge as it amounts to forcing Nigerian masses to drinking hemlock. The prevailing social and economic anomie marked by mass poverty of our people, we must admit, really began when the military under General Ibrahim Babangida embarked on policies that transferred government responsibilities to corporate individuals and market fundamentals. What the fate of the common man would be if Sanusi's advice is adopted by government is better imagined.
'We therefore call on President Goodluck Jonathan to disregard the advice of the CBN governor or of any other group or government agency urging him to impose anti-people policies such as subsidy withdrawal and deregulation. This is not the time to put additional burden on the shoulders of already overburdened Nigerians', NLC stated.