Nigerians Should Be Patient With President Buhari – Comrade Korodo, NUPENG boss
Comrade (Alhaji) Tokunbo Korodo is the chairman of the Lagos and south-western zones of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). In this interview, with our Contributing Editor, Dickson Bewaji speaks on happenings in the Petroleum Industry, steps being taken by President Mohammadu Buhari to right all the wrongs, and about the 50th reunion and anniversary of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria. Excerpts.
As chairman of the Ansar-ud-deen Society’s 50th reunion annniversary, what can you tell us about this Islamic organisation?
Well, I am highly delighted to be the one to be invited as the chairman of this great occasion. Ansar-ud-deen is a household name; it has been known for decades, even before I was born. I have also attended a lot of Ansar-ud-deen functions, both in Lagos and Ogun states. The Korodo family has been at the forefront of the propagation of Islam and we have also contributed a lot to its uplifting, so inviting me as the chairman is not by accident at all, it’s a well-deserved invitation.
A lot of muslim organisations that started at the same with Ansar-ud-deen and those that came after them have fallen by the wayside. What do you think constitute the staying power of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria?
I must first of all appreciate the effort of the leaders, both past and present. They have contributed so much to the growth of Ansar-ud-deen and they should not relent in their efforts or rest on their oars, so that Nigeria and the muslim world can continue to enjoy their teachings and the services being rendered to humanity at large.
Your sister is being honoured with an award today; what has she done to be given such honour?
I think she deserves it, because she has contributed so much to the growth and development of the Mushin branch of Ansar-ud-deen in particular and the Ansar-ud-deen Society in general. I am very, very happy for the award and I will tell her to keep it up.
Let’s digress to national issues, most especially the Oil and Gas sector. As a stakeholder, what can you say is the cause of the current fuel scarcity being witnessed across the federation?
There are a lot of factors that contributed to the crisis. Let me give kudos to this present government – they mean well for Nigerians and they should not be castigated. President Mohammadu Buhari and his cabinet are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the market is flooded with petrol. We can not rule out the efforts and hanky-panky of the cabals and petroleum saboteurs who are trying to scuttle all government efforts to ensure that the product is available. They are trying to bend the government to suit their whims, but I know this government will not take it lightly with them.
Government alone cannot sustain the volume of petroleum products that’s being consumed by Nigeria and Nigerians. The scarcity per se started with the non-payment of subsidy claims. You know we are in a democracy and there is a new government in power – even if the President approves the money for payment, it has to pass through the supplementary budget, and also the National Assembly has to endorse and approve it as well. It is that due process that is stalling the payment.
Once government pays the marketers, the private sector will also augment the efforts of the government. Presently the fuel we are seeing in circulation is solely from the government through its agent, the NNPC. And they are also trying to loosen the chain of its distribution, so that the products will get to the masses on time. Don’t also forget that the government is fixing the refineries so as to stop the importation of petroleum products and be self-reliant in the production of what we are consuming and also export the remainder. Recently, a stakeholders’ meeting was held between DPR, NUPENG, IPMAN, PENGASSAN, MOMAN, depot owners etc on ways to end this fuel scarcity.
After the subsidy payment, why are we still witnessing the scarcity? Is it that the marketers are intentionally hoarding their supplies so that they can sell at a higher price?
That is not true. Let me be frank with you, nobody is hoarding the fuel. You know Nigerians have been starved of fuel and the rush for it, even with a lot of millions of litres injected into the system. But because the scarcity was so huge, it was consumed immediately it was injected. It is however believed that with the tempo that the government is pumping right now, in one week the scarcity would be a thing of the past.
Fuel Scarcity has been a recurring decimal across the federation, most especially during the Yuletide period. What do you think is the way out of this logjam?
The way out is for the people to be patient with the new government as they plan new strategies on how to surmount the persistent crisis. I can confidently tell you that the 16 years of PDP rule is a big disaster to this country. They have bastardised the entire petroleum industry. They did not invest a dime into the industry, but were just continuously milking the Industry; they are just after the enrichment of themselves and their pockets and that of their cronies and allies. A situation whereby you don’t invest in the infrastructures of the industry and you just continue to earn, it will never be in the best interest of Nigerians.
Finally, your organisation is talking about setting up a refinery of its own. How far have you gone about that?
It’s a very, very capital-intensive project, we are still going on with it and we will, in conjunction with other stakeholders, deliver products from our refinery and I can guarantee you that fuel scarcity in Nigeria will be a thing of the past.
Thank you very much for your time.
You are all indeed very welcome, and also thank you for having me on the hot seat.