A Civil Society Group, Coalition of Patriots Against Agents of Corruption (COPAAC) has described the recent call by organized labour on the minister of state for petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu as ill advised and mischievous.
Speaking to journalists at the weekend in Abuja, COPAAC National President,
Comrade Linus Ejilogo accused organized labour of abandoning its responsibility to Nigerian workers when the previous administration embarked on massive looting of the nation’s economy.
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) at the 11th National Delegates Conference of NUTGTWN in Kano called for the resignation of Dr Kachikwu after he reportedly said it is currently cheaper to import refined petroleum than to locally refine the product.
According to Ejilogo the truth remains that the aged refineries in Nigeria cannot compete favourably in terms of production cost benefit compared to more modern refineries from where we get products abroad.
He wondered where the unions were when the billions of dollars were siphoned by previous administrations under the guise of fixing the nation’s refineries.
According to him, “If NLC and NUTGTWN had as much as pressured that government to build one refinery, we will not be in this sorry pass where people leave their jobs to waste days of their lives looking for petrol to buy. We probably will not at this point be waiting for one individual to complete building a refinery to end our national woes.”
Speaking further, Ejilogo said, one would expect that these labour unions would have focused on discussing practical steps that could be taken to ensure that Nigerians get steady fuel supply pending when a solution like building new refineries can be implemented.
He said, “It is a wonder that the two unions did not come up with a workable solution to ending the long fuel queues that have become common features in our cities yet they were demanding for an apology from someone who has been doing his best to fight the oil cabal that NLC and NUTGTWN have now become spokespersons for.
“These two unions can productively used their time for fishing out their colleagues that took part in looting the country both in the oil industry and other sectors of the economy. They did evil to Nigeria by keeping quiet while their union members assisted and actively collaborated with the looters of our commonwealth and this is what they should be ruing how to apologise to Nigerians for.”
He said though COPAAC is not in support of continued importation of refined petroleum products, but believe the Minster of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu should be given time and support by Nigerians to clean up the mess he met in the industry.
“if the industry continues to falter after he has spent reasonable time in office Nigerians can then lose their cool with him. But this is not likely to happen considering the boldness with which he has set about restructuring the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the industry at large,” he said.
He urged Kachikwu to focus on the assignment that President Muhammadu Buhari gave him in the oil industry, saying he has to ignore this kind of distractions that could only be sponsored by those who want to continue having a regime of business as usual in the oil sector.
He said, “the NLC and NUTGTWN, and indeed any other trade union must know that the show of shame of 2012 erased whatever credibility they think they have with Nigerians. The civil society has since stepped into the role that labour unions used to play such that Nigerians did not miss their absence on the scene when they went to “chopchop” with the previous government. They cannot now think that they can use the ploy of blackmailing Dr Kachikwu as the roundabout way of rehabilitating their credibility with the citizens. They did not save us from the cabal then so they should not compound what is on ground.”