the President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Festus Osifo, has disclosed the position of the union on the issue of petroleum subsidy removal.
Comrade Osifo said that while the union acknowledged that payment of subsidy for petrol is no longer sustainable, the government must take shrewd measures to ensure the reality of this.
Osifo made this known at the PENGASSAN Energy and Labour Summit 2022 in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said, “It is clearly not sustainable for us to be spending close to 7 trillion in the payment of subsidy. We quite know from the information available to us that the financial situation of this country is in dire straits. We know as well that the amount of money we are using in servicing debt is even getting higher than our revenue, so it shows clearly that we are in dire straits but our leaders must lead by example.
“Today, if you check the budget that was passed, there is what is called Service Wide Vote. The Service Wide Vote today is going to three trillion naira. The accounting system of Service Wide Vote is questionable, we live in profligacy. Today, go to several states and see what our governors are doing.
“They cannot tell us that we are passing through austerity; they cannot tell us that they need our help but they are still living, as usual, we must cut our coats according to our size. We have challenged and told them, why can’t you come out and lead by example and say okay, I am going to cut down on ABC and E and actually you go ahead and do it?
“The National Assembly will come out and say we are going to cut our budget by 50 per cent, and then the same goes across the board. When you have done that it is easier for you to now engage the union leaders.”
The PENGASSAN leader likened the current situation surrounding the subsidy removal between the government and the unions to a man trying to cut costs in his home but going around marrying more wives.
He said, “The challenge that we have today is just like a man who wakes up in the morning and tells his child I can no longer pay your school fees that things are difficult, he tells his wife we have to reduce the quantity of food in this house because there is austerity but at the same time this man goes around to marry the second wife, marry the third wife, marry the fourth wife and the man goes around to now start taking 5 bottles of alcohol a day instead of one he was taking.
“So that calls for the question, the children will now call him and ask daddy, are you sure we are actually in austerity? Are you sure what you are telling us is true because you must start practising what you preach?”