From Desmond Mgboh and Bimbola Oyesola, Kano
Labour yesterday called for resignation of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, over statement credited to him that it was cheaper to import refined petroleum products than refine locally.
Accusing the minister of working for foreign interest, having been an employee of one of the multi national oil companies in the country, the organised labour berated him insisting that such statement contradicts the principle of President Muhammad Buhari’s adminnistration.
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, advised the minister to withdraw the statement, tender public apology to Nigerians, failure which Labour would call for his resignation.
This was as the elder statesman and pioneer minister of Mines and Power, Dr. Mataima Sule, who said he built and commissioned the Port Harcourt refineries as a minister, decried the continued importation of refined products into the country, saying Nigeria had no business importing petroleum products.
Speaking at the 11th Quadrennial National Delegates’ Conference of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria yesterday in Kano State, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba said Kachikwu’s comment was not in the best interest of Nigeria.
He said Nigeria cannot develop when it imports all it needs, adding that except the nation’s industries were brought back on track, the country’s aspiration to prosperity will remain a mirage.
Comrade Issa, in his remark, said the Minister’s statement did not add up to the mission statement of his Ministry “which is to maximise the benefits of the sector, oil and gas, so that we can use these resources for national development.”
Describing the comment as “extremely dangerous,” he said Nigeria cannot maximize the benefits of the petroleum sector when its minister holds the view that it is cheaper to import than to produce locally.”
He regretted that going by Central Bank of Nigeria’s Report, the country spends about 12 billion dollars annually on fuel importation adding that more than the payment of school children fees abroad, the payment for imported fuel constituted the biggest pressure on the exchange rate
He disclosed that Alhaji Aliko Dangote is spending about 11 billion dollars to establish the largest refinery in the world with a capacity to refine 650,00 barrel per day in Nigeria, calculating that if the same amount spent on fuel importation yearly was reserved for the building of local refineries , Nigeria would have refineries scattered everywhere.
While charging the Federal Government to take a cue from Dangote, he said that setting up of local refineries will add value to the petroleum sector, create the much needed jobs as well as save the scarce foreign exchange.