Nairametrics| If by now you have not bought sufficient litres of petrol to last for the week, you may be regretting that decision very soon. This is because the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTDs) have stopped transporting products across the country. This situation will eventually result in choking off supply of petroleum products to end users.
A synopsis of the journey to this stage reveals that the Federal Government (FG) only cares about the revenue from oil. For the tanker drivers, their demands have not been met, including better remuneration, improved roads, and the construction of standard stop-over facilities along the highways. Barring the last one (which in some countries still remains the job of the government), all their requests are fundamental, and should have been addressed without the threat of a strike. For example, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place between the parties had expired since 2014 with no mention of a renewal. However, despite interventions by Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the FG has, for over a year, refused to address any of these demands from the PTDs. This implies that the FG does not care.
In contrast, the militancy in the Niger Delta had received a better response from the FG. While the militancy had dragged on for several years, its recent upsurge contributed significantly to the country’s economic crisis that started third quarter last year. However, as with several other occasions, high-powered delegations visited the area, pacifying the militants, while the President constituted a committee to resolve the crisis with the Vice President at its helm. This is reminiscent of the security deals of the Jonathan regime and the military crackdown of the Obasanjo era. The FG just does not play with issues as these.
What could be responsible for the difference in the FG’s reactions despite the fact that both issues concern the same sector? This is a likely theory. While crude oil production contributes about 90% of the country’s exports and 75% of its consolidated budgetary revenues, the FG had to ‘subsidize’ prices of petroleum products, as a result increasing their expenditure. Thus, while the latter situation impacts on the earnings of the FG, the former is actually a burden.
Given this, it should come as no wonder that matters such as the strike of the PTDs does not interest FG as much as the crude oil production in the Niger Delta.