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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Fuel price increase: N145 is sacrosanct —NLC

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Friday, declared that the pump price of N145 per litre of petrol is sacrosanct.
The NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, reacting to a statement credited to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, indicating a possible increase in fuel pump price, said the issue of price increase was never on the table.
Wabba, who spoke with Saturday Tribune, said President Muhammadu Buhari, had indicated in a meeting he held with labour leaders and other stakeholders on Tuesday in Abuja that the issue of price increase should not be contemplated.
The NLC president, who moved out of a meeting with the minister at the NNPC Tower, Abuja, to answer a phone call from Saturday Tribune, described as mere misrepresentation, the statement credited to Kachikwu.
He said the issue on ground after the Tuesday meeting was how to make fuel available at the current price and monitor distribution.
“It (price increase) was not actually on the table. The only thing on the table, which we are presently discussing, is how to make the product available at the price of N145 per litre. Nobody has the mandate to discuss the issue of price. The price at N145 is sacrosanct. All we discussed at the meeting is how to make the product available.
“We were there at the meeting where he (Kachikwu) addressed the press just now. In fact, the meeting is still going on and we are there. So, that is the reality and that is the fact; any other issue in speculation is not part of the subject matter of the entire discussion.
“The president initially, when he said we should have that meeting, said the price must remain N145, and we should look at how to make the product available and look at factors responsible for the shortage in the month of December. So, that is the only mandate we are discussing.
“The issue of pump price increase is not on the table now, nobody is contemplating that. The issue is not on the table, it is not contemplated at all. Let us limit ourselves to where we are, because that gives room for speculation and the marketers begin to do what will not be favourable to consumers and the generality of the citizens.
“What is on the table now is to make products available at the prevailing rates. That is what everybody is aware of; anything outside that is not actually on the table and nobody is trying to bring it to the table.
“The minister himself has addressed a press conference because of the misinformation by some media houses,” Wabba said.
Labour to picket filling stations selling above N145
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to picket filling stations selling petroleum products above official pump prices.
An official of Ebonyi chapter of the congress made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abakaliki.
The source confided in NAN that the union decried the lingering fuel crisis in the country at an emergency meeting.
According the official, members will be mobilised to picket erring filling stations in Abakaliki.
“The Congress condemned the seemingly lack of action on the part of government and relevant agencies to quickly address the situation which Labour noted is having adverse effect on the workers.
“Since December till now, Nigerians have been subjected to horrifying experience as they are made to buy Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) between N260 and N300 during the Christmas and New Year periods.
“The price of PMS still sells above the approved pump price of N145 with some filling stations selling at N230, while others sell at N250 even after the festivities to chagrin of Labour.
“Worrisome is that no efforts are being made in Ebonyi like other states to sanction erring filling stations by relevant agencies of the Federal Government.
“Hence Labour, at its emergency meeting held Jan. 4 has decided to picket filling stations in Abakaliki found selling the product above the government approved price of N145 including filling stations hoarding the commodity,” the labour leader said.
The source further revealed that NLC would interface with leadership of the oil marketers to prevail on them to compel their members to sell fuel to the public at the official pump price.
“Labour will first of all engage the leadership of the oil dealers in dialogue but will embark on picketing of filling stations if the interface failed to yield desired result,” he however said.
NAN reports that, DPR and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources have consistently debunked product scarcity and any hike in pump price.
NAN also reports that as a result of the unofficial increase in the pump price of PMS, intra-city transporters have increased their fare from N50 to N100 per drop.



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