News - April 24, 2021

Labour supports Nigerian govt’s planned repair of refineries; gives conditions  

Says reasons for the privatization of the power sector have all been defeated, as the performance of the new private operators is worse than when the sector was publicly managed.

Despite the stiff opposition by some Nigerians, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it supports  the government’s plan to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries.
However, as conditions for the support, the NLC demanded that adequate measures must be taken to ensure the exercise was on the basis of value for money in view of the huge losses the country aready suffered from previous rehabilitation exercises.
The NLC recalled that in the past, contracts were awarded to phony contractors and their middlemen collaborators in government who defaulted on their commitments for effective Turn Around Maintenance of the nation’s refineries. 
The NLC urged the government to be  transparent on the current rehabilitation exercise to ensure optimal productivity,
Last month, the government announced the approval of $1.5billion by the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery as part of a larger plan that would cover the other refineries in Warri and Kaduna.
Since the announcement, prominent Nigerians have heavily criticized the decision.
Pat Utomi described the decisionn to spend $1.5 billion to refurbish the Port Harcourt Refinery as ‘illogical and unintelligent.”
At a time the world is moving away from fossil fuel to alternative energy, Utomi said he would have preferred that the refineries were disposed for N1 to interested investors willing to invest billions to revamp the refineries, to save the country from wasting money on asset that are beyond salvage.
Former Vice President and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, and Stanbic IBTC Bank founder, Atedo Peterside, also faulted the exercise.
Peterside described the plan as “brazen and expensive misadventure”.
He said many “experts” preferred the refineries being sold ‘as is’ by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) to core-investors with proven capacity to repair them with their own funds.
However, rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja on Thursday, the NLC declared  its support to the exercise, although the NLC considered the budget on the high side.
The NEC consists all the Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of affiliate unions; Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Councils and the FCT, and members of the National Administrative Council of the NLC.
In a communique at the end of the meeting signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, and General Secretary, Emma Ugbuaja, the labour movement said its decision to support the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries was line with the Agreement reached with the government on September 28, 2020.
As part of conditions by Labour to suspend its nationwide protest  against the hike in the price of petrol last year, the NLC demanded the government to take reasonable measures to rehabilitate all refineries to halt the continued reliance on importation for fuel supply.
Besides, the NLC reiterated its call for the construction of new refineries  in the country to boost the domestic refining capacity.
On privatization of the power sector, Labour considered the World Bank Report on government  subsidies to the privatized power sector, describing as “an acute aberration that is totally untoward, and completely unacceptable to Nigerians.”
Having considered the services from the new private owners of the power sector, the NLC described their performance as worse than when the sector was publicly managed.
“The quality of services and cost efficiency for electricity consumers in Nigeria have actually deteriorated since the privatization of the power sector. The reasons for the privatization of the power sector, which were to improve electricity services to consumers, shed the burden of funding the power sector from government and increase revenue accruing to government, have all been defeated,” the NLC said.

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