BY OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA- Members of the National Assembly investigating the petroleum sector have been urged not to succumb to pressures being mounted on them by interest groups from different parts of the country.
In a statement, in Abuja, yesterday, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ibrahim Omar, said: “Since the probe carried out by the National Assembly, particularly, the House of Representatives, on the removal of oil subsidy, there have been insinuations that unprecedented pressure have been mounted on the legislature from various quarters to jettison the report.
“These interest groups have been identified as oil marketers that might face sanctions based on assessment of their submissions during the probe, speculators and briefcase businessmen who will lose out on cheap money, and government officials who have been feeding fat on contrived leakages in the oil industry and therefore stand indicted.
“Our concern that these pressures might overwhelm the report of the probe or if released might not be implemented by the Executive, is not without foundation.
“The rush by the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke, a major actor in the removal of oil subsidy, to set up committees and task forces to probe the oil industry, though laudable, is tantamount to medicine after death.
”With due respect to distinguished members of those committees, it might also be a distraction and a ploy to pre-empt the report by the legislature and instigate a major cover up.”
“Though the legislators came up strong and stood their ground in their report on the last probe on privatisation of public enterprises, and the Chairperson of the ad hoc probe committee, Farouk Lawan, and the chairperson of the House Committee on Petroleum ( Down stream) have assured that the report will not only be released, but there would be no sacred cows, Nigerians are still aghast at the manner the power probe was truncated and made moribund despite the troubling activities and abysmal performance of the power sector and its significance to the economy.
“We wish to remind all those currently parading the corridors of power to negatively influence the probe report that investigations into the oil subsidy removal was a product of a recent national strike and mass protest by workers and the Nigerian people.
“It is also a culmination of all agitations, strikes and protests by the labour movement over the years to compel the Federal government to come down from its high horse and accept the rot and corruption in the so-called oil subsidy removal process and sanitise the oil industry. Thus, the probe report by the National Assembly will not be allowed to be so treated as the power probe or other probe reports of its kind.
“We urge the legislators to remain steadfast to their mandate as true representatives of the people, and resist all attempts to water down the report or stop its release to the public.
“It is apparent that a lot depends on this report in order to debunk and put paid to the mountain of lies and continued exploitation of the Nigerian people over the years through incessant and arbitrary increases in fuel prices ostensibly in the name of removal of oil subsidy.”