By Victor Young
United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, has renewed its call for the review of power sector privatisation and an end to importation of refined petroleum products into the country, among others to rejuvenate the nation’s economy.
In a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, ULC said: “It is a shame that we have continued importing petroleum products and that we have also privatised it so that the products have become inaccessible to majority of the citizens causing serious distortions to our economic processes.
“This government promised to revitalise all the refineries and build more, but has since abandoned this wise programme on which it rode into power.
“We have been condemned to spending nearly 50% of Forex Exchange, Forex, receipts on financing the purchase of refined petroleum products. This has not only put undue pressure on the Naira, but has also denied our nation the benefits of rising oil prices.
“Privatisation has not only encouraged rent-seeking in an economy that is already traumatised, but has also crippled the capacity of the commandeered utilities to deliver services critical for national development to the masses.
“With power sector privatisation, electricity ceased to be social and became commercial. This has made it increasingly inaccessible to the people who need it to drive the various segments of our economy, excluding them from effectively contributing to wealth creation thus catalyse development.
“Our economy suffers enormously lacking sufficient capacity to drive itself out of the predicament. Drastic steps must be taken to awaken us from the abyss which our unserious attitude to building domestic manufacturing capacities has pushed us.
“We, therefore, call on our policy makers to critically take bold steps to grapple with the crisis in manufacturing in Nigeria and stop this policy of opening our borders to all manners of imports, especially from Asia with its attendant consequences.
“We must learn to put our food where our mouth is. Deliberate efforts must be embarked upon to grapple with the challenges facing our local industries as this remains the only basis for creating local capacities that becomes the bedrock, not only for job creation but to rev up the economy and deepen the structural inter-linkages needed to build a resilient economy.
“A critical and conscious effort must be made to wean Nigeria off its over-dependence on oil and its derivatives.
“ULC urges the Federal Government to stop the consumption of imported goods in all its activities, especially the ones that can be produced in Nigeria; trim its various perks, reduce cost of governance, review the electricity sector privatisation, put the local refineries fully back to work since it cannot build new ones and stop the massive borrowing to fund never-ending projects.”