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FG Blackmailing Nigerians With Fuel Scarcity --Says NLC

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has raised alarm over the continued long queues at filling stations across the country as a result of scarcity of petroleum product, saying it is a ploy to blackmail Nigerians into accepting the high increase in the products,

 especially premium motor spirit, also known as petrol.

Speculations are rife that the Federal Government plans to remove the other part of the subsidy in the nearest future but government has persistently denied these conjectures with claims that it has included budget for subsidy in the reviewed 2012 budget for the country.

However, the current scarcity of fuel which the NLC describes as artificial, is seriously affecting Nigerians, particularly in Abuja, the South-South and South-East geo-political zones where the price of a litre of petrol was put at between N250 and N500 last week.

In a statement dated Sunday, February 26, 2012 and signed by Owei Lakemfa, NLC Acting General Secretary, the organisation said: "the current artificial fuel scarcity in parts of the country is to blackmail Nigerians into accepting higher fuel prices and pressure the National Assembly (NASS) to discontinue the probe into the wholesale fraud in the oil industry. The contrived scarcity is an unholy alliance between major oil marketers and various government agencies.

"The claim by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria that the patriotic probe into the corruption-ridden oil sector by the NASS has created "uncertainties" and loss of confidence by the financial institutions which has translated into fuel scarcity is ridiculous. Banks cannot be scared to work with honest businesses as the marketers are claiming, and the country cannot be blackmailed to allow fraudsters continue to dominate the oil sector."

The NLC also said it was unacceptable to labour that marketers and the Government would contrive to push the price of a litre of petrol (PMS) back to N140 under the guise of fuel scarcity.

"We also assure the National Assembly that Nigerians are solidly behind its probe into the age long theft of our oil wealth and the fleecing of the country through the inflation of the subsidy on fuel. The future of our country lies in our ability, determination and the political will to tackle the endemic corruption that has become cancerous and is threatening our very existence.

"It is ironic that the very people who contributed to the present state of affairs in the oil industry are those claiming to be sanitising it by setting up a plethora of committees allegedly to cleanse the industry."

The labour union said the various committees set up in the wake of the subsidy crisis are mainly political patronage and already creating a new bureaucracy in Government and driving up the cost of governance contrary to President Goodluck Jonathan's January 16, 2012 pledge to the country that the cost of governance will be reduced.

It further reiterated that the Jonathan-led administration has no alternative but to live up to its promise that Nigerians will richly reap the dividends of the fuel price hike.

"The claims by some government officials that the mass protests organised by Labour and its allies which led to the reduction of a litre of PMS from N140 to N97 has made the fulfilment of the promise impossible is childish. It is like a dull, inattentive pupil blaming the teacher for his failure.

"Nigerians are not interested in excuses; they demand and deserve good governance and the dividends of democracy."