The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association have described as poisonous the International Monetary Fund’s advice to the Federal Government on fuel subsidy.
The Managing Director, IMF, Christine Lagarde, during a press conference on Thursday at the joint annual spring meetings with the World Bank in Washington DC, called on the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy, describing it as the right thing to do.
The two unions said the IMF’s advice had created panic in the country, which had led to the hoarding of petroleum products.
“The statement of IMF has created panic in the country with associated hoarding of petroleum products, panic buying, skyrocketed increases in prices of goods and services in the country,” NUPENG and PENGASSAN said in a joint statement on Sunday.
The statement further read,“ We read with serious concerns and worries the reported statement” on the state of Nigerian economy and “the unsolicited poisonous advice on further recovery of the nation’s economy.”
According to the unions, the IMF commended the significant progress the nation had made in terms of its Gross Domestic Product, which increased by 1.9 per cent in 2018 from 0.8% in 2017 on the back of improvement in manufacturing and other economic policies of the government.
They said, “It is quite bewildering and baffling that the IMF is not considering the pains and agonies Nigerians went through even to achieve the acknowledged gains of 2018, with almost two-thirds of the world’s hungriest people among Nigerians.
“One wonders why the IMF is still callously and wickedly advising the government to inflict more pains and harm on the people.”
The oil workers said stringent reforms such as removal of fuel subsidy and increase in Value Added Tax would be “an attempt to destabilise the nation.”
They said, “This [IMF] statement is embellished and loaded with poisons, considering the antecedents of the IMF in our economic challenges and struggles over decades of our nationhood. The various devaluations of our currency on the strength of advices of the same IMF have been a very big burden on our nation for several years now.
“The leadership of NUPENG and PENGASSAN are aware of what Nigerians are going through; we empathise with them and will not turn a blind eye to any further attempt to increase their pains and impoverish them further.”
The unions acknowledged the efforts, commitment and determination of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to put the country on the right economic path “after several years of maladministration and mismanagement”.
“We earnestly plead with President Muhammadu Buhari to constantly put in mind the current hardship Nigerians are going through in our collective journey to economic recovery. Be it known that any economic policy that is devoid of human feelings could lead to more social dislocations and upheavals,” they added.