…As Ajaero mobilises NLC members for nationwide strike
…Yoruba Council calls for arrest of Labour leaders
…KPMG forecasts 30% inflation on N500/Litre PMS
…SERAP seeks legal action on alleged missing $2.1bn crude oil, N3.1trn subsidy payments
…Endure, APC Govt is temporary — Atiku
Following the upward adjustment of the prices of Premium Motor Spirit ( PMS) from N175 to average of N500 per litre nationwide by Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited ( NNPCL), stakeholders have called for the reversal of the prices to avoid nationwide strike, galloping inflation and job cuts. The stakeholders led by the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC ) and SERAP also called for the probe of eight years N3.1 trillion fuel subsidy payments, alleged missing $2.1billion crude oil and provision of actual daily demand figure by NNPCL.
For instance, KPMG Nigeria Partner and Chief Economist , Mr Yemi Kale, said that the updated prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) will jerk Nigeria’s inflation to about 30 per cent in June 2023.
Kale speaking via his twitter handle said, “Using the NBS CPI model+my macro model, the new petrol prices may add about six per cent to Consumer Price Index (CPI) in June over whatever is reported in May, holding other things constant.
“April was 22.22 per cent and May is unknown and won’t be affected. So, June will be somewhere about 30 per cent. Not as bad as I expected.”
He however noted that the CPI for May would not be impacted.
NLC threatens nationwide strike
Following the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy on the price of PMS, the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC), is set for a face off with the Federal Government.
Recall that last week after a meeting between the labour union leaders and representatives of the Federal Government, Dele Alake stated that the discussion with the union was inconclusive.
The NLC has now come out to issue an ultimatum of Wednesday to revert to the old price of N194 per litre or it would direct its members to withdraw their services nationwide across both public and private sectors.
The NLC also directed all its affiliates unions and state councils to commence mobilisation in case the government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) refuses to revert to the old pump price of PMS.
In a briefing with journalists after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the national President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, noted with regret that NNPCL on Wednesday jerked up the pump prices of PMS by over 200 per cent bringing the price of fuel to between N488 and N557 per litre.
Ajaero said after an unanimous decision of all NLC affiliates, unions were directed to commence mobilisation immediately ahead of the planned nationwide protest.
According to him, “The NLC decided that if by Wednesday next week the NNPCL, a private limited liability company, that illegally announced a price regime in the oil sector, refuses to revert itself for negotiation to continue, that the NLC and all its affiliates, will withdraw their services and commence protests nationwide until this is complied with. The NNPCL doesn’t have the monopoly to act illegally even as a private company. The NLC NEC, therefore, directed all state councils and all industrial unions to commence mobilisation from this moment to make sure that this action is enforced. The action has commenced at this moment.”
Ajaero then called for a probe of the subsidy regime in the past eight years, the amount paid on subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payment. The labour leader also urged the NNPCL to ensure a proper account of the amount of petroleum products Nigerians consume daily. He accused the NNPCL of refusing to disclose beneficiaries of subsidy and landing cost of petroleum products.
He said, “The Nigeria Labour Congress is calling for a thorough probe in the process of subsidy to know those involved and the amount involved. Investigate it properly before it is swept under the carpet. The current attempt to sweep the fraudulent practices in the subsidy regime should not be tolerated by all well-meaning Nigerians.”
Endure for now, Tinubu’s administration is temporary — Atiku Abubakar
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate in the February 2023 general elections has advised Nigerians to appreciate the PDP Government and regard President Tinubu’s administration as temporary.
Speaking at a one day retreat in Bauchi, Atiku said, “We have the experience as a party in government. That is what we would have done and not just announce subsidy removal without discussion with the affected sectors of the economy. I think Nigerians should appreciate what they have temporarily lost.
“Between 1999 and 2007, the PDP government initiated the petroleum subsidy removal and I chaired the committee. We achieved subsidy removal in two phases but only after providing palliatives for those most affected by the subsidy removal,” he said.
Atiku further expressed confidence that he will reclaim his stolen mandate at the court.
Probe missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn subsidy payments or face legal action — SERAP tells Tinubu
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
SERAP urged him to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged widespread and systemic corruption in the use of oil revenues and the management of public funds budgeted as fuel subsidy, and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also urged him “to promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently and effectively probe all fuel subsidy paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of any subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.”
In the letter dated 3 June 2023 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for these human rights crimes.”
SERAP said, “Your government should urgently act to follow due process of law in any policy to remove fuel subsidy, ensure that suspected perpetrators of these crimes against Nigerians are brought to justice and full recovery of any missing public funds.”
SERAP also said, “Arbitrarily removing fuel subsidy without addressing outstanding accountability issues in the alleged mismanagement of oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments would amount to punishing poverty and further impoverishing the poor while letting high-profile officials and non-state actors get away with their crimes.
“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to continue to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 3 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The proposed panel should be headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, and its members should include people with proven professional record, and of the highest integrity that can act impartially, independently, and transparently.
“A comprehensive approach that prioritises accountability and full recovery of missing crude oil and public funds is required to address the problems of the implementation of fuel subsidy since 1999.
“According to the audited reports between 2016 and 2019 by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit N663,896,567,227.58 into the Federation Account. The Auditor-General fears that the money may be missing.
“The NNPC also reportedly failed to account for the allocation of crude oil to refineries in 2019. 107,239,436.00 barrels of crude oil were lifted as domestic crude without any document. The Auditor-General fears that the crude valued at N55,891,009,960.63 may have been diverted.
“The NNPC in 2019 also failed to remit N1,955,354,671,268.66 and N55,157,702,848.74 of generated revenues into the Federation Account, contrary to Section 162(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]. The Auditor-General fears that the money may have been diverted.
“The NNPC also failed to account for N4,572,844,962.25 of ‘domestic gas receipts’, thereby ‘reducing the distributable revenue in the Federation account.’ The Auditor-General wants the money remitted.
“The NNPC also in 2019 failed to account for 22,929.84 litres of PMS pumped from refineries and valued at N7,056,137,180.00. The Auditor-General fears that the PMS may have been diverted.
“The NNPC also ‘illegally classified’ 239,800 barrels of crude oil valued at N5,498,045,220 as ‘crude oil losses.’ The Auditor-General fears that the crude oil may have been diverted.”
“The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in 2019 also reportedly failed to remit US$1,278,364,595.49 in revenue to the Federation Account. The money was deducted by the NNPC from the Oil and Gas Royalty assessed by the DPR.
“The DPR in 2019 also deducted N19,840,081.29 as ‘stamp duty’ payments from contractors and consultants but the DPR instantly paid back the money to the contractors and consultants instead of remitting it to the treasury.
“The DPR in 2019 also paid N137,225,973.35 to contractors and consultants for various contracts and consultancies but failed to deduct stamp duty. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.
“The DPR also paid N11,856,088,271.92 as salaries for 2019 but failed to deduct N118,560,882.72 as contribution of 1 per cent Industrial Training Fund (ITF). The DPR in 2019 also failed to transfer US$35,738,342.95 year balance. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered and remitted.
“The DPR in 2018 also withdrew without any explanation $759,387,755.10 from DPR Signature Bonus Account rather than paid the money into the Federation Account.
“Subsidy records show that N443,940,559,974.80 was paid as total subsidy for 2016 but the money was not budgeted for. The payments were for outstanding Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) commitments for year 2015.
“However, there was no payment in 2016. Only outstanding payments for previous years 2014 and 2015 and interest payments were made in 2016.
“The Auditor-General fears that the oil marketers that received the subsidy payments may not have been ‘eligible to draw from the Petroleum Support Fund ( PSF) as the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) failed to provide any document on the payments.
“N39,141,210,181.74 was also paid from the Federation Account in 2016 to different Oil Marketers in 26 transactions, being Payments of Interest and Foreign Exchange Differential on Subsidy but without any document.
“The NNPC also made ‘zero profit’ and recorded ‘losses from its joint ventures in 2016. This is contrary to expectations that profits should be made from the joint ventures.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Abuja in 2016 paid N14,490,000.00 for the supply of 3 Nissan Almera Saloon vehicles 1.5 to the Ministry without proper documentation. The purchase of ‘the vehicles were made through direct procurement without competitive bidding by at least three companies, as required by Financial Regulations. There was no advertisement and bidding for this contract.
“Although ‘N12,442,500.00 was approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement for the vehicles, the Ministry made an overpayment of N2,047,500.00 to the car company.
“SERAP urges your government to prioritise getting to the bottom of these allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.
“Promptly investigating and naming and shaming suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.”
Yoruba Council calls for arrest of Labour leaders
Meanwhile, the apex umbrella body of all Yoruba indigenous people has called for the arrest of Joe Ajaero and Emmanuel Ugboaja led Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
President, Yoruba Council Worldwide, Aare Oba Oladotun Hassan Esq. said the council is aghast to see Joe Ajaero and Emmanuel Ugboaja led Nigeria Labour Congress (NLS) to have declared strike action via a trending circulated letter dated 2nd June, 2023 to commence strike action on Wednesday 7th June, 2023 against President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s led Federal Government on the removal of the fuel subsidy in the wake of the inauguration on 29th May, 2023.
The Yoruba leader aimed that based on evidence at the Council’s disposal, the proposed NLC planned strike is an act of economic sabotage, calculated at truncating the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, consequently amounting to Double standards and Treasonable felony.
“We are equally surprised to see the ill-motivated chaotic action to picket CBN offices nationwide and not NNPCL if even genuine as a deliberate premeditated ploy of the Labour Party manifested to cause monumental havocs, considering the siamese political affinity and negative positions of NLC and Labour Party at the last Presidential election, and their earlier treacherous declarations led by the Labour Party’s Vice Presidential candidate Datti Baba Ahmed to make the current government ungovernable,” he decried.
“Surprisingly, Are Oladotun said this is the same political campaign Agenda of the Labour Party’s Presidential candidate Peter Obi to remove and scrap fuel subsidy immediately if elected, so what has changed?”
According to him, “It is highly hypocritical to see the Labour Union Leaders and their ilk involved in such a deceitfully clandestine and criminally crafted plans, considering the purveyors of the strike action who are mainly hardcore ‘Obidients’ using the sentiments of the current economic situation to orchestrate the ill-motivated chaotic total shutting down of the economy.
“It is on this premise we call on all law enforcement agencies, particularly the DSS to stop any act of NLC declared protests, for this is a dangerous prescription to nosedive the ship of government and throw the country into abyss.”
He warned Nigeria Labour Congress and all her affiliates to desist from political grandstanding evil machinations to disrupt the wheel of progress of governance predicated on successful start of a renewed hope agenda.
“We use this medium to call on all Nigerians to continue to support and rally round the new administration of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Senator Kashim Shettima led Federal Government, based on their genuine robust plans to positively reposition the Oil and Gas industry and strategically grow the economy in the overall interest of the greatest number.
“Besides, NLC and TUC leaders knew since last year November that subsidy will be scrapped from July 1 as no provision has been made in the budget for it, beyond this date. The Federal Government which already commits 96 per cent of its revenue in servicing debt is not in any position to continue selling subsidised fuel, most of which is smuggled across our borders for criminal and obscenely unpatriotic profit.
“Subsidy of fuel is most fraudulent decoy to plunge the nation into bottomless pit of hell and economically no longer sustainable as the Federal Government is virtually broke. Apart from its N77 trillion debt, it also owes the NNPC Limited about N2.4trillion for past subsidies,” he lamented.