Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has condemned the recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, describing it as a plan by the federal government to worsen the current level of pain and anguish being faced by Nigerians.

President of the union, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, revealed that the recent increase in the pump price of PMS is clearly against the spirit and content of what organised labour agreed with government at the last negotiation over the fuel price increase.

He insisted that the increment has also cast in very bad light, its utmost good faith with regards to government’s explanation that it lacks funds to continue bankrolling the so-called subsidy payment as such would sooner than later cripple the entire economy, throw the country into severe economic crisis and cause loss of jobs in millions.

He said “while we await the full recovery of our refineries as contained in our agreement with government, Nigerians cannot be made to bleed endlessly for the failure of successive governments to properly manage our refineries, ensure value for money for the numerous Turn Around Maintenance, TAM, which were poorly and barely executed and the horrifying lack of interest in prosecuting public officials and private business people who have profited from the rot in our petroleum sector and the collective misery they have imposed on the general population.

“The truth is that we would not have been in this precarious situation if government had been alive to its responsibilities. There is a limit to what citizens can tolerate if this abysmal increase in the price of refined petroleum products and other essential goods and services continue. While we fix our refineries, there are a number of options open to government to stem the tide of high prices of refined petroleum products. One is for government to declare a state of emergency in our downstream petroleum sector.

“As a follow up to this, it should enter into contract refining with refineries closer home to Nigeria. This will ensure that the cost of supplying crude oil is negotiated away from prevailing international market rate so that the landing cost of refined petroleum products is significantly reduced.

“Government should also demonstrate the will to stamp out the smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria. We need to see big time petroleum smugglers arraigned in the court of law and made to pay for their crimes against the Nigerian people. Government has the resources to ensure this economic justice to Nigerians.”

Wabba also demanded that Nigerians should be carried along in the distribution of refined petroleum products, adding that information on the distribution of petroleum products to petrol stations should be advertised and made public.

“It should not be difficult to establish the average time it takes a petrol station to exhaust its supplies. There is already an established market trend which will help government fix the rot in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sector.”

The union called on government to review the entire process of licensing for modular and bigger refineries, saying it was queer to depend on the enterprise of one man to fix Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector.