The umbrella Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have clashed over the fuel scarcity being experienced in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja and other cities.
The NLC said in a statement that the scarcity was created by the NNPC as part of government’s efforts to withdraw fuel subsidy, a contentious issue in Africa’s top oil producing nation.
“For more than a week now, it has been noticed in several parts of Nigeria, including Abuja, that long queues of vehicles have reappeared in fuel stations due to scarcity of petroleum products in the country,” NLC spokesman Chris Uyot said.
“While the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation has issued a statement that the country has enough supply of petroleum products, the marketers have said the importation of the product has been stopped since two months running.
“Since motorists are in difficulty accessing the products at fuel stations, it is obvious that the NNPC officials are either lying or up to some mischief. What seems to be the truth is that the government has stopped importation of petroleum products, and even what is available is being sold at exorbitant prices to marketers. We hold the NNPC responsible for the current scarcity as it is the only source of supply to marketers,” he said.
Uyot alleged that the scarcity was created to effect the planned controversial withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
However, the NNPC has denied that it stopped importing fuel.
“The NLC should mind their business, how can we stop importation of fuel. If we stop importation, how are motorists going to run their vehicles. Is it with water? There is nothing like that,” NNPC spokesman Levi Ajuonuma said.
Nigeria most of its domestic fuel needs because its refineries are functioning far below capacity.
The federal government has announced plans to withdraw fuel subsidy, saying the economy cannot continue to support the subsidy, which is estimated to hit 1.2 trillion naira this year (US$1=155 naira).
But Nigeria’s workers unions, civil society organisations and opposition parties have warned against any subsidy withdrawal, which they argued will raise the price of fuel and further impoverish the citizenry