The Nigerian Labour Congress on Tuesday said it was high time Nigerians staged peaceful road shows and street protests against the continued loss of crude oil caused by pipeline vandalism, theft, illegal bunkering and political interference.
According to the congress, Nigerians have spoken for so long without concrete actions to stop crude oil losses, adding that it was time to take to the streets and demand decisive actions from the Federal Government.
The Vice President, NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, said it was saddening that Nigeria was losing over 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day and nothing seemed to have been done to address the ugly development.
Aremu spoke at a public hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill organised by Patriots for New Nigeria Initiative in Abuja.
He said, “Nigerians must work and walk this talk on the streets with road shows, and in fact, I think it is time we moved out of air-conditioned auditoriums as we demand answers from our leaders.
“It is time we hold our leaders accountable for the loss of 400,000 barrels per day off crude oil. We have governors, ministers, police, navy and other security operatives but still record huge losses. Why?”
The NLC vice president said countries like Saudi Arabia, that Nigeria started with in terms of crude oil production, had attained higher level of development, stressing that the loss in oil production had dragged the country backwards.
He added, “They tell us that we are among the first 20 oil producing countries, but has this impacted positively on our economy? We need answers, we need change and we must work and walk the talk this time to get the desired change.”
Aremu expressed worry that key stakeholders and legislators, who were supposed to be at the event, did not show up. This, he said, showed that the passage of the PIB might not be any time soon.
On the bill, the NLC chief said the role of the regulators should be clearly spelt out. He said the bill should not give so much power to the petroleum minister.
“It is better to build institutions rather than give too much power to an individual,” he said.
Chairman, PNNI, Mr. Abdulhakeem Mustapha, said the PIB was one of the most significant legislations Nigeria had contemplated for its most important economic sector, the oil and gas industry.
He said, “We must have vigorous debate, conscious of what the national objectives are and alert to the necessity that the change the new laws are expected to produce should actually be for the better.
“Yet the perennial question is whether we are prepared to foster a viable consensus, and able to muster the discipline that the PIB reforms will require if they are to be successfully executed.” [Punch]