Oil marketers, under the aegis of Natural Oil and Gas suppliers Association of Nigeria, NOGASA, yesterday, lamented the unfavourable operating environment in the downstream petroleum industry, stating that they lost N320 billion during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement in Abuja, Public Relations Officer of NOGASA, Mr. Chinedu Ukadike, however, called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to reconsider their proposed strike action over the hike in the prices of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, and electricity tariff. Ukadike stated that the crunching impact on businesses and business investors in the downstream sector following the arrival of Covid-19 global pandemic had been outrightly disastrous for the industry.
He said: “NOGASA is seriously concerned about recent developments in the downstream sector of the industry, especially with growing adverse effects on their businesses, workers and the Nigerian economy at large. “Some of these concerns are heavy losses of over N320 billion investment from products purchases at government specified prices, and sales at compelled price reductions, which could not be justified by the costs of transaction.
“Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses. There is an upward slide on the graph of job losses in the sector. “NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation.
“The Association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months.” Ukadike explained that while the association fully aligns with the NLC/TUC that the government should repair the refineries and also allow others to build private ones to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
He added that the association strongly believed that further disruptions in the presently struggling economy will create far more problems for workers and businesses that employ them than it seeks to solve.
He said: “It is in light of these and many other economic challenges and negative outcomes to the entire Nigerian economy that NOGASA appeals to the NLC/TUC to reconsider their proposed action over the increase in petroleum pump price and electricity rates by the government and engage Government constructively on finding a lasting solution to the issues aforementioned.
“While the Association believes that there is great need for more sensitive considerations and far reaching negotiations and dialogue to resolve matters that affect us all, the Association also uses this medium to appeal to government to declare a state of emergency on the refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.”