Uche Usim, Abuja
The Natural Oil and Gas suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) on Thursday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on the nation’s ailing refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.
The association lamented the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pestilence on businesses and investors in the downstream sector leading to a loss of over N320 billion.
The spokesman of NOGASA, Mr Ukadike Chinedu, said, in a statement, that the loss sprang from products purchased at government-specified prices and were compelled to sell it at reduced prices, which could cover the costs of transaction.
He said: “Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses.
“There is an upward tick on the graph of job losses in the sector. NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation. The association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months”, he said.
NOGASA also urged the Nigeria Labour Congress to abort its planned nationwide strike but pressure the government to repair the refineries and also allow others to build private ones; to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
NOGASA, he added, strongly believes that further disruptions in the currently-struggling economy will create far more problems for workers and businesses that employ them than it seeks to solve.
“It is in light of these and many other economic challenges and negative outcomes to the entire Nigerian economy that NOGASA appeals to the NLC/TUC to reconsider their proposed action over the increase in petroleum pump price and electricity rates by the government and engage the government constructively on finding a lasting solution to the issues aforementioned”, he noted.