The crisis that will welcome any announcement of further withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products will be so monumental and so far reaching than envisaged by anyone and make the January protests seem like a child's play, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) warned yesterday.
NLC was reacting to media reports which quoted President Goodluck Jonathan as insisting that subsidy in the nation's petroleum industry must be abolished for Nigeria to have uninterrupted supply of fuel.
But President of the NLC Comrade Abdulwahed Omar, in a statement yesterday, said President Jonathan is not honest with Nigerians about the real problems bedeviling the nation's petroleum industry.
"We believe Mr. President is not being honest with Nigerians about the real problems of the industry. The same President who set up several committees to identify the crisis in the industry and who have been given detailed reports by the committees cannot validly say he is still helpless.
"Some of the committees, including those set up by the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee led by Hon. Farouk Lawal identified not just the problems of the industry but specifically named individuals and companies who have diverted subsidies meant for the industry to private use. Majority of them are political associates of those in power.
"Indeed, the President has been seen severally hobnobbing in public with some of the key persons indicted by the reports. In a decent society, all those who have been indicted by all the reports would have been facing accelerated prosecution or serving severe jail terms for committing economic crimes injurious to public interest."
He added that as at this moment, N1.7 trillion meant to subsidize the industry has been diverted by identified private individuals and companies and "the government is not in any hurry to prosecute the alleged thieves. We can't therefore understand why the President is in so much haste to inflict deeper poverty on Nigerians."
"Today, the problem with the petroleum industry is largely lack of decency and political will on the part of the government to deal with those who have already been identified as having corruptly enriched themselves with funds meant for the industry.
"The crisis that will welcome any announcement of further withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products will be so monumental and so far reaching than envisaged by anyone. The January protests would seem a child's play compared to what might follow any attempt to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry," he noted.