Leadership caucus of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South-East zone has for calm over the recent removal of fuel subsidy.
Spokesman of the group, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, who made the plea while addressing a Zonal Women Summit of the party in Enugu, appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, and Civil Society Organisations, to call off the planned strike action.
He said, ‘we are aware of the hardship in the country, that great numbers toil with little or no return, that farmers find no market for their products, that the savings of millions of families are gone,and a host of unemployed youths face grim problem of survival; however we are appealing to labour to shelve the mass action.
‘For this situation, no matter how seemingly hopeless and gloomy, has the bright prospect of cutting down waste, cutting down cost in the nearest future and making fuel available.
‘The Fuel Price Hike is a painful and difficult decision. The pain is that there is no official Dollars to sustain the huge bill. President Muhammadu Buhari took pains to accept the proposal he had opposed as far back as his first stint as Head of State – 1984 – 1985.
‘It is also common knowledge that in 2012, members and leadership of our great party, the APC, opposed the Fuel Price Hike or Removal of Subsidy. In the same vein, Mr President opposed it even in his second coming as president and campaigned repeatedly against it. True, we rejected Fuel Price Hike then, basically because of the profligacy of the ex-regime. Hold us responsible if we squander money saved.’ Mr Okechukwu echoed.
‘My Dear Compatriots, you must agree with me that what made Mr President to accept Fuel Price Hike in the midst of abject poverty in the land, despair and despondency; is nothing but the crunchy and dire financial situation – where it is difficult for local, state and federal governments to pay salaries. We all know that this is a president who never placed personal gains over public good and who will never squander our commonwealth.
‘The true position is that the dwindling oil price, and recent militant attack on oil installations have gravely rendered Federal Government cash strapped. Nigeria is at cross-road. Coupled with what the former Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala dubbed lack of political will to save for the rainy day by the Jonathan regime. Which in simplicita means that we are paying for the sins of crass planlessness and squandermania of the regime she coordinated.’
Okechukwu went ahead to posit that, ‘Had the regime executed the 3 Greenfield Refineries they awarded to the Chinese on 13 May, 2010, had the regime built modern rail lines or saved the unprecedented oil revenue; we couldn’t have noticed the nose-dive of Oil production from 2.4mbd – 2.2mbd – 1.6mbd (million barrel per day) and the unfortunate slide of Oil price from $90 per barrel to more or less $40 per barrel? To be exact $550m was realized from oil sales in April this year and fuel import receipt gulped $225m, about 46%.’
‘This is Oil revenue which contributes over 80% of our foreign earnings and by extension our foreign reserves and over 40% used for petroleum products importation. As we stated earlier in every cloud there is a silver lining, therefore we should give benefit of doubt to the Hon Minister of State of Petroleum Resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu who had staked better days ahead. Let’s try his dictum that competition will drive cost down.’ Okechukwu intoned.
‘I will almost take a bet with you that, in six months time, you will be amazed what will happen to N145 price, because it will be going downwards.
‘Finally, may we remind Labour that we of the APC, are not foolish optimists who deny the dark and painful realities confronting our compatriots at the moment. All we are saying is that the patriotic Labour movement should bear in mind that the 70% of the people they had admonished to stockpile food items can barely afford full square meal per day, talk less of stockpiling food. Therefore, the strike may end up adversely affecting all of us, especially the same masses on whose behest the strike is being called.’

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