By Victor Ahiuma-Young
PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has faulted the proposal by the National Economic Management Team, NEMT, that the price of  Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, be increased from the current N65.00  to N100.00 per litre. It said such act was  not only an attempt to circumvent due process but also portended dangers to socio-economic stability of the country.

The oil workers said the NEMT suggestion coming on the heels of an “equally unwise announcement” by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, of its moves to raise electricity tariff, was a ploy to test the will of Nigerians.

President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, in a statement said: “The government should never effect any increase in the pump price of PMS whether now or later without due process.  Any attempt to circumvent due process would throw up crisis in the country that may be difficult to manage.

“I hope these people are not trying to test the will of Nigerians. Few days ago, it was NERC that talked about increasing tariff of unavailable electricity. Now it is NEMT suggesting raising the pump price of petrol to N100.

“Whether this year or next year, people should stop treating Nigerians as if we do not matter. This country belongs to all of us. Because they are in government does not make them more Nigerians than us.”

Theirs is to find ways of lessening our suffering and improve our living condition and not to compound it. The suggestion of NEMT should not be accepted or encouraged in order not to disrupt the industrial and social peace in the country. We will not accept any unilateral decision of fuel price increase especially when there is a committee for that purpose. The committee must not be sidelined.”

He continued: “Also, on plans to increase electricity tariff, we have argued that the issue is not about the increase in the tariff of electricity but what the government needs to do is to work on how Nigerians will enjoy whatever they paid for.

For a long time, this country has been witnessing situations where they pay for services that are not delivered to them. The issue of confidence on the part of the people has been eroded.. So, there is no way the people can trust either the government or the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN on whatever promises they are making.

“We, PENGASSAN, think what the government needs to do is to work on how to improve the services and ensure that power or electricity supply increases. Non-availability of power has stalled the economic growth of this country. Virtually every sector is suffering from low capacity utilisation of our power sector.

If organizations, both the public and private sectors, channeled what they are spending on electricity to other aspects of the productions or services, they will record tremendous growth that can improve the economy and lead to GDP growth.

The Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) sector, which is the sole of growth for economy is in near comatose in Nigeria due to the inadequate power supply. This sector alone could have provided large chunk of jobs that is needed to put our youths of the streets and off crime.

Some of the artisans cannot work due to lack of power. On this note, we are rejecting the increase in electricity tariff at least for now pending when the government can justify the little that people are paying for through the improvement of services that PHCN is providing to the people.”

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