It seemed government panicked at the response of trade union leaders to call out workers on strike in reaction to the decision to deregulate the oil imports sector, as a lasting solution to the intermittent fuel scarcity, which destablises the economy.
Otherwise, it was not necessary for the government to obtain an injunction at the Industrial Court, restraining trade union leaders from proceeding with the strike. Even without such an injunction, the planned strike against the new oil pump strike was and would still not be supported by reasonable Nigerians, including the lower classes. There were various reasons.
First, the injunction imposed by the Industrial Court against the strike was mere routine, as there was no way the court could have ruled in favour of the labour leaders to proceed with the strike. Second, in rushing to the Industrial Court for some injunction, the government inadvertently was saving the union leaders from being exposed for lack of support for the strike. In any case, as if on a career suicide, trade union leaders still disregarded the injunction imposed by the Industrial Court and proceeded with the strike. Was the strike effective as normal in any part of the country?
The issue was not that the government should bluff any threat of strike but this was one strike for which trade union leaders misread the situation. The change in fuel pump price was a response to popular public demand over the years but particular with recent experiences of seeming insoluble fuel scarcity. In the midst of that general hardship in which fuel pump prices not only in black market but also even at petrol stations hoarding petrol, ranged between two hundred naira and almost four hundred naira, depending on different parts of the country.
Frustrated consumers, including the working class currently being called out on strike by trade union leaders, openly demanded official increase in fuel pump price to deal with oil hoarders and black marketers. Government has even gone far beyond these by offering issuance of licences to capable and willing Nigerians to import oil, all in determination to make fuel supply easily available throughout the country. If motorists and commuters freely offered such sacrifice and government acceded to their demand, on whose behalf, therefore, are trade union leaders agitating against the project free flow of fuel supply?
It is too early to completely embrace the emerging positive effect of the fuel price hike. But noticeable indication is that with the fuel price hike, government has broken the backbone of economic saboteurs, who comprise mainly oil importers, oil marketers and inevitably, even bankers, the unpatriotic cartel, holding the nation to ransome for years. When these criminals held sway, they conspired to blackmail successive governments, as incapable of sustaining uninterrupted fuel supply in Nigeria.
Accordingly, in our present situation, any idea of agitating for a return to old fuel pump prices is not in the interests of Nigerian consumers. Rather, it is a camouflage, for unpatriotic elements to continue hoarding, overpricing and smuggling of oil meant for Nigerians to neighbouring countries. All over the diabolic world, it is the obligation of trade unions to champion the lot of its members but the points) in dispute must be justifiable. For better wages? Yes. Against injustice in society? Yes. But not against a government measure which, in the long run, is in the interest of larger society.
Admittedly, such government measure may cause collateral hurt for the lower class. That is why the Buhari administration must give serious attention to the prospects of reviewing wages in particular. But this must not be carried out in a way that will eventually leave the potential beneficiaries worse off. In this regard, the 1972 Udoji wages award and the subsequent debilitating effect on workers’ economy should be a guide. Whatever wage rise should be felt more in value rather than amount for workers.
Inevitably, the new fuel pump price generated. Has the deregulation of the oil import industry necessarily solved the lingering poor state of our oil refineries? Impossible. Whatever volume of oil imported will still be better complemented by the products of our four refineries. What still, there seems to be no reliable report on the situation at our refineries which, if claimed to be partially or even fully working today, would suddenly emerge to be of no value, especially in times of fuel scarcity. It is economically risky for a country like Nigeria to rely completely on imports of refined petroleum products.
Under government’s new oil import policy, stakeholders are to source for foreign exchange outside official sources, a decision which generated criticisms. But, government should be firm on this direct blow on an anticipated fight back by saboteurs. First, the foreign exchange is not available at official sources. More importantly, if government, through Central Bank were to officially allocate foreign exchange for oil importers, it will be an opportunity for economic saboteurs to once again return to business.
To be continued
Crocodile tears over Enugu killings?
Continued from last week
The various disturbances in Northern Nigeria in 1966, leading to killings of fellow Nigerians were triggered by a false and malicious report on Radio Benin (at that time known as Radio Dahomey) that Northern Nigerians were being killed in Eastern Nigeria purportedly in retaliation for the coup, which fatally toppled General Aguiyi-Ironsi. That report turned out not only to be false and malicious but also intended by foreign big powers to distabilise Nigeria.
The mischief of foreign powers in sponsoring that false report on Radio Dahomey in 1966 was confirmed less than two years ago by a prominent Nigerian syndicated columnist, Mohammed Haruna, in his column on Lagos-based newspaper, THE NATION. With that tragic past, an identical report should not have been officially released in our present ethnic/religious tension. The report was carried in sections of Nigerian media, including THE PREMIUM TIMES, authutative voice on security matters in Nigeria.
With publication of the disturbing report on April 9, the killings occurred at Nimbo, Enugu State, on April 25, only a fortnight later. None of us raised any alarm on the indiscreet nature of the SSS release, especially remembering the tragic consequences in Northern Nigeria after similar report in 1966. Read on unedited as published by the PREMIUM TIMES, an on-line medium:
“The State Security Services announced Saturday (April 9) that it has discovered mass graves of Hausa/Fulani residents abducted and murdered by suspected members of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abia State.
“The agency said IPOB carried out the massacre of people of Northern Nigerian origin as part of its efforts to destabilise the country.
“In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Opuiyo, the SSS said the killing has triggered tension among different communities in Abia State.
“Although Mr. Opuiyo said five men were killed alongside several other unidentified persons, only the names of four individuals were provided.
“The service (SSS) has uncovered the heinous role played by IPOB in the abduction and kidnap of five Hausa/Fulani resident namely, Mohammed Gainaiko, Ibrahim Mohammed, Idris Yakubu and Isa Mohammed Rago at Isuikwuato LGA in Abia State,” Mr. Opuiyo said.
“The abducted men were later discovered in the Umnanyi forest, Abia State where they were suspected to have been killed by their abductors and buried in shallow graves amidst fifty (50) other shallow graves of unidentified persons.
“Arrest and investigation conducted so far revealed that elements within IPOB carried out this dastardly action, he added.
“Opuiyo said he was alerting Nigerians to the divisive and gruesome activities allegedly led by fiery broadcaster Nnamdi Kanu. Mr. Kanu has been standing trial for treasonable felony since his first arrest on October 17, 2015, after entering Nigeria from the UK, where he lives.
“It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB is gradually showing its divisive colour and objectives while steadily embarking on gruesome actions, in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust among non-indigenes in the South-east region and other parts of the country.
“Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the state with the possibility of spill-over to other parts of the country,” Opuiyo said.
There have been funny submissions that the culprits of Nimbo massacre are neither Fulani nor even Nigerians. Could they have been foreigners undetected by our security forces? Are we safe in Nigeria, if true?