By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
NIGERIANS are at the risk of witnessing a worse fuel scarcity situation and high cost of petroleum products if the federal government went ahead to make good its threat to finally withdraw oil subsidy without the four refineries becoming fully operational, oil workers warned.
President Goodluck Jonathan said last week that there will be final removal of fuel subsidy and the money generated from the subsidy removal will be used to revamp infrastructure in the country.
But addressing Journalists in Calabar, the Cross River State capital at the weekend, President of The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, comrades Igwe Achese, and Babatunde Ogun, respectively, condemned the move.
The union leaders said that it was shameful that Nigeria, a top producer of crude oil in the world still imports refined products like petrol from countries that are not so resource blessed like Niger that had recently discovered oil in their country and Ghana.
Comrade Achese after a four-day workshop for oil workers on Petroleum Industry Bill, noted that while the unions were not against the withdrawal of subsidy, relying almost completely on importation of petrol will continue to impoverish Nigerians.
He noted that the four refineries in Nigeria presently function at 20 per cent capacity, an indication that the country will continue to rely on importation of the products at higher costs to the detriment of the citizens.
“If we are deregulating the product, you will agree with me that there is going to be a very high inflation rate in the country, the cost of living would be very high. But then what are the palliative measures that government is going to put in place?
“I read in the papers, the president saying that the money that would be saved from the subsidy is what they would use to put infrastructure on ground.