TUES, SEPTEMBER 19 2017-theG&BJournal-At petrol stations across the country, motorists are pondering a chilling thought.
The scenario goes like this. The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) strike commenced yesterday and a meeting scheduled today between the unions and the Federal Government could result in a stalemate given the harsh contending issues on the table for discussion.
Meanwhile, public awareness of the disruptive effects of fuel scarcity prompts consumers to rush into panic buying. That adds to existing pressure on the public who are already facing disruptions across a range of sectors, including the health and education sectors.
Already fuel depots in Lagos shut their tank farms yesterday, affecting the supply of petroleum products to the filling stations and leaders of the various unions under the United Labour Congress (ULC) are backing the strike action.
Joe Ajero, the ULC president, while addressing the impact of the called strike weekend urged Nigerians to bear with the unions. He called the strike a “necessary sacrifice we all must make to assist those in government to be more responsible and responsive to the demands of Nigerian workers and masses.”
The NUPENG shut-down is as a result of the larger strike called by the ULC who claim that the Federal Government has failed to recognise the group as a legitimate body. Most affiliates of the ULC joined the strike that began yesterday including, the National Union of Electricity Employees, Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees as well as the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers and National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees.
One motorist at a Station, Uchenna Ofili, described the strike as the ‘’nation’s shame.” A country that has all the required resources, both human and material, to advance its people is constantly mired in misery because of leadership incompetence,” he said in visible anger. He described the ULC, NUPENG and the Federal government as a bunch opportunity grabbers and insensitive to people’s pains.
Our correspondents report that the queues are getting longer and feedback from motorist and petrol station owners suggest that the scarcity will linger a while because fuel hawkers and greedy petrol station owners will ensure that artificial scarcity persists even after a truce is called in the meeting today in Abuja. The meeting was called by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) urged the public not to engage in panic buying, adding that 1.6 billion litres of Premium Spirit, a 48-days stock, is available to consumers.