Increasing the price of petrol at a time when workers are losing incomes and some out of jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic is most insensitive, and smacks resentment for workers, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), has said.
The General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, said the announcement came to the working class as a shock, especially coming at a time when most workers are still struggling and have not yet found their feet financially after most of them had lost incomes and continue to lose incomes and jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained: “Most workers are months back in the payment of their rents and other loans. We will not fail to state our conviction that all these abracadabra going on with the price of petroleum products, have to do with World Bank conditionality for granting loans to the Federal Government. The Bank has never been quiet about its desire to see that the Federal Government stops the so-called subsidy on petroleum products.”
Adeyemi said NASU will not allow itself to be carried into or get involved in the stale discussions about how market prices of petroleum products, especially petrol is arrived at, saying it regards government agencies figures on this matter as dubious and the positions of bureaucrats in the petroleum industry on them as very insincere.
He accused bureaucrats heading government agencies and their collaborators in the petroleum industry of sabotaging the nation’s refineries to achieve selfish ends.
Adeyemi alleged that successive governments have always been held hostage by corrupt bureaucrats and their collaborators in the private sector, adding that rather than Nigeria earning foreign currency from selling the refined petrol to its neighbouring countries, it is losing foreign exchange through the importation of the products.
“We do not see this wickedness of the ruling class over workers and the masses of this country coming to an end soon. Political change of batons from one political party to the other has never and will never bring about a change in the character of the ruling class. All the political parties are opposite sides of the same coin.
Therefore, no one should be surprised to find politicians who are members of a political party in the morning, becoming members of the opposition party in the evening. They announce with fanfare, their membership of the opposing political party, which they were calling names in the morning of the same day. The reason is that our political space is devoid of ideology. Their common denominator is that they are all predators of our commonwealth, corrupt and dubious exploiters of the masses.”
He also faulted government claims on areas money spent on subsidy could be more effective, adding, “we are always told that the whole issue surrounding the removal of subsidy if actually any exists, is to free resources for the Government to do other things that will lead to the economic growth of the country.
We in NASU see any talk about economic growth without accompanying economic development as dubious. Economic development has to do with citizens’ quality of life and living standards often measured using the human development index, which considers literacy rates, life expectancy and poverty rates.
All we hear daily from Government economists is Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Unfortunately, GDP does not include intrinsic development factors such as leisure time, environmental quality or freedom from oppression. It is high time the quality of lives of citizens is taken seriously by the government.”
NASU also challenged the government and its officials to tell Nigerians which another oil-producing country has increased the price of petroleum products during this period of COVID -19 pandemic.
It maintained that at a time when other countries of the world are making cash transfers and taking other palliative measures to reduce the effect of the pandemic on their citizens, the industry has succeeded in pitching the government against the people through this ill-advised decision, that will exacerbate the already precarious economic situation of workers and the downtrodden in the society.
Adeyemi noted that the effect of the increase on workers is two-fold.
“One, workers pay directly, through direct purchase of the product for their vehicles and generators and the other indirectly, due to the rise it is already causing in the prices of transportation on the very poor roads, consumer goods and essential services.
This increase cannot be justified especially at this time. We in NASU see it as extortion of the downtrodden masses of this country in favour of market forces. It is not only unjust but insensitive. The action has added to the hardship of workers and ordinary Nigerians. We, therefore, call for an immediate reversal by the government,” he said.
Source: News update