By Toba Agboola and Tony Akowe
THE Federal Government has assured the workers that it has no plan to sell any of the nation’s refineries and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Anybody who has such plan, it said, did not have the workers’ interest at heart.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated these yesterday at the NLC 12th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference in Abuja .
The President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said government was determined to attain the decent work agenda, which involves opportunity for works that are productive, deliver a fair income, security for workplaces and social protection for families.
“I want to reassure you of the commitment of this administration to the issue of welfare of workers. This is evidence of numerous programmes and policies that have been initiated by this administration in promoting the interest of the well-being of our workforce.
“The administration is committed to addressing other labour issues that are still pending,” Mustapha said.
But, NLC has called for reversal of power sector privatisation due to what it called chronic failures by the distribution companies (DISCOS) to deliver quality power supply to Nigerians.
Its National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said: “Since the privatisation of electricity distribution, Nigerians are yet to see the fulfilment of promises of efficient service delivery.
“Instead, the electricity situation has gone worse with chronic failures by DISCOs to supply prepaid meters, exploitation of Nigerians through estimated billings and reluctance to attend to basic complaints.
“Even with N39 billion bailout funds from government, the supposed private entrepreneurs have failed to turn anything around, except maybe their pockets, unfortunately, at the expense of Nigerians. This must stop.
“We call on government to reverse the power sector privatisation because it has failed. Privatisation of public utilities has not generally proven to be the correct thing to do in most countries, even developed ones, according to a study released by Public Services International.
Quoting author of “Why Public Private Partnerships don’t work; the many advantages of public alternative, David Hall, Wabba said privatising public utilities had been a wreck in most countries.
He mentioned Spain, France, India, South Korea, United Kingdom (UK), Australia among others showed “how public/state guarantees and loans to private sector for the utilities sector have resulted in failures on delivery of services as well as repayment in most cases”.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to resuscitate Nigeria’s ailing refineries to liberate the downstream sector.
According to him, “the crisis of industrialisation and manufacturing in Nigeria is best exemplified by the chaos in the downstream petroleum industry, where we have been unable to manage our vast natural carbon resources for national growth and prosperity of our people.
“Our four national refineries are almost under lock and key as we depend on the importation of refined petroleum products for our energy needs. Promises by successive government to resuscitate our refineries have become a mirage.
“To rub salt to injury, our public officials have now found a new hobby – taking ‘selfies’ in an ongoing private refinery project being constructed by the Dangote Group. This is truly sad for Africa’s largest producer of crude oil and the sixth largest in the world.
“We will continue to push for the resuscitation of our four refineries and for the construction of additional public refineries. This will bring to an end the fraud associated with subsidy payment.
“The only sustainable solution to our energy crises lies in prioritising the development of the value chain in our downstream petroleum sector. This is a major step towards jump-starting our economy and unlocking trapped jobs. Our country would also be saving trillions of naira we currently spend on importing refined and poorly regulated petroleum products from overseas.”