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NLC’s call for Refineries repair, new salary unrealistic -Scholars

By Babatunde Ayedoju & Samuel Edu

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Prominent scholars in the country have expressed fears that the demands of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, for increase in workers’ salary and repair of the nation’s refineries before oil subsidy removal may be unrealistic.

They noted that there is no likelihood of the Federal Government repairing the refineries anytime soon, saying that if the government was concerned about repairing them, new ones would have been built.

They are also worried that the refineries might be sold at ridiculous prices.

“More so, if they are not sold to capable hands, they would end up like PHCN and other agencies that have been privatised in the past,” they further advised.

 Professor Bayo Aborisade from the Federal University of Technology, Akure was of the opinion that there is nothing impossible if the government had the political will to rejuvenate the refineries.

His words: “Whoever is suggesting the sale of Nigeria’s refineries has no interest of the country at heart. If this is done, you will be shocked that these set of politicians will still be the ones to buy off the refineries.

“Repairing Nigeria’s refineries and conscious efforts geared towards the improvement of the nation’s infrastructural development and increment of workers’ salary as advocated by the Nigeria Labour Congress is the best alternatives for the government before subsidy is removed.

“Personally, I believe the fact that fixing up Nigeria’s refineries cannot be done overnight but if the government has been deliberate about fixing our refineries all this while, we would have gone farther than this and would probably no longer have to export our crude oil.

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“Nigeria is a complex nation and one riddled  with  corrupt practices.

“On the adoption of the Oronsaye report by the incoming administration, it might be too early to commend or condemn Tinubu for this.

“The Oronsaye report established that there are 541 Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies (statutory and non-statutory) and recommended that 263 of the statutory agencies should be reduced to 161, while 38 agencies should be abolished and 52 should be merged.

“The panel also recommended that 14 of the agencies should revert to departments in ministries.

“I want to strongly believe that if reform must start in Nigeria, it must start from somewhere and if Tinubu has decided to start with the implementation of the recommendation of this report, I would urge Nigerians to wait and see the next line of action.

“Civil servants are obviously not the only problem when it comes to cost of governance but we all know that politicians always do their best to protect their own interest first.

“Let us hope that Tinubu is only starting with the civil service and cutting the cost of governance will soon be extended to political office holders.”

His counterpart from the Department of Economics, Professor Olayemi Simon-Oke said “The country is corrupt and the fact remains that there is tendency for some unscrupulous elements among the Nigeria Labour Congress to have the intention of defrauding the government through fuel subsidy but this is not an enough justification for the government not to give listening hear to the request of NLC.

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“On the Oronsaye report, Tinubu should start the reform among political office holders rather than from civil servants because political office holders constitute more problems in terms of incurring cost for the government.

In her own submission, Professor Mary Fasoranti of the Department of Economics, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko said the problem plaguing Nigeria as a nation.

She opined that “increment of workers’ salary as advocated by NLC is not enough to douse the economic tension on Nigerians.

“No doubt, Nigeria as a nation does not have what it takes to take proper care of its increasing population as a result of high cost of governance.

“Cutting down cost of governance both in the civil service and political sector is the best way to go.

Dr. Bayo Fasunwon of the Department of Political Science, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko stated that refineries owned by the Federal Government have become means of generating money for those in power, just like the fuel subsidy.

He said that there is no likelihood of the Federal Government repairing the refineries anytime soon, saying that if the government was concerned about the refineries, new ones would have been built.

Similarly, Dr Chris Ofonyelu from the Department of Economics, described fuel subsidy as a scam that needs to be removed.

He also queried the sincerity of the NLC, saying that there is no way government would be able to meet conditions being given by the union.

Ofonyelu recommended that the four refineries owned by the government should be sold, saying that they have become an avenue for government functionaries to siphon money from the treasury.

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He added that selling the refineries would create a healthy competition as they would be run as business entities.

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