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Nigerians will not yield to your blackmail for pump price hike, Falana tells NNPC

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The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Femi Falana, has told the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), not to blackmail the government to accept deregulation, saying that the statement that there is no money to remit into the federation’s account by May was equal to blackmail.

This is as the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega said that a new Nigeria is possible if the people should come together irrespective of tribe or religion in the interest of unity.

The two spoke in Abuja Thursday at a lecture in commemoration of the 80 years anniversary of a foremost labour activist, Professor Omotoye Olorode.

Chief Falana, who was the guest speaker at the occasion reiterated his call for the Federal Government to compel the NNPC to return the unremitted money between 2010 and 2014 and another N94 trillion oil money allegedly held by oil operators.

According to him, “The Auditor-General of the Federation has revealed that between 2010 and 2014, $16 billion worth of crude oil was not accounted for by the NNPC.

“Also, the Revenue Mobilisation and Allocation Commission and NEITI have come out to say that the NNPC has failed to remit to the federation account, about $22 billion dividends paid by the LNG.

“The NNPC has not, up to this moment, deny any of these serious allegations. So, if they say there is no money now, it is meant to blackmail Nigerians that the corporation won’t remit money because it is paying for subsidy. Federal and state governments would then move to stop subsidy so they can have money to pay salaries, allowances and pension etc.

“But Nigerians must tell the government that there are alternative sources. We have written to the President about how government can recover N94 billion. We are going to insist now that recovering this money is the way to go.”

The human right activist in his presentation titled, ‘Labour and the quest for Nigeria’s development: Reflections and prognosis on the way forward’, accused the Federal Government of dividing the country through lopsided appointments.

He equally accused the labour movement of abandoning the traditions of the founding fathers such as Michael Imoudu, Nduka Eze, Wahab Goodluck, Hassan Sunmonu and Ali Ciroma generations.

Chief Falana alleged that the labour movement started to derail from the labour tradition under Pascal Bafyau era, adding that the movement has continually suffered a lack of clear-headed, unambiguous and principled stand on national development from Bafyau to Adam Oshiomhole down to Abdulwahed Omar and presently under Ayuba Wabba.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion and for Chairman of the INEC, Prof Jega, said that the labour movement has a crucial role to play in ensuring the emergence of a government that is built on social justice.

He said: “Labour had played that role in the decolonisation process in this country. But since the era of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) labour has been declining in opposing unfriendly policies that are affecting the Nigerian people.

“A new Nigeria is still possible and there is the need to find ways and means of energizing the labour movement and ensure it is positioned to play its roles within nation-building excellently well.”