NIGERIANS on Saturday called the bluff of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD), over its members’ threat to embark on nationwide strike on Monday.
This is just as our correspondents across the country said that unlike in the past, the threat did not trigger panic buying of petroleum products.
President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Achese Igwe confirmed on Friday that the PTD would not lift or transport petroleum products from the depots across the country due to unresolved issues. Their aspirants include deplorable working conditions with regards to poor remuneration; insecurity on the highways; poor state of roads and allegedly the excesses of some security agencies, especially the Nigeria Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
Findings by Sunday Tribune revealed that that many Nigerians are divided on the impact the industrial action would have on the economy, just as some of them chided NUPENG and PTD for attempting to impose more hardship on Nigerians through strike.
Despite the threat, which many motorists said was not necessary, there were no queue in most of the petrol stations visited by Sunday Tribune.
It was also observed that both private and commercial vehicle owners bought petroleum products without stress.
Some vehicle owners, especially commercial drivers who spoke with Sunday Tribune said they were shocked that PTD and NUNPENG were planning to embark on a strike when many Nigerians are already jumping into the lagoon.
A commercial driver, Adekunle Ede said: “PTD and NUNPENG members are insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. Is strike the next thing for them at this time when many Nigerians are groaning under weight of hardship occasioned by many bad policies of this government. Let them embark on the strike and fulfill their wish. Nigerians no longer believe that industrial action is the solution to our problems because it has failed us many times”, he said.
A tanker driver, who identified himself as Ganiu Ajibola, described the claims by tanker drivers about poor conditions of roads as baseless, saying “Most these tanker drivers who claimed that they are embarking on this strike because of bad roads that they ply are not telling the truth. The fact is that most of them are reckless drivers. The way the drive on the express contributes to the deaths recorded by their drivers. I am not ruling out the fact that the roads are bad, but our drivers are very reckless on the roads and they should stop blaming the government for this.”
According to a vehicle owner, Wasilat Balogun “It is when you have more than enough that you engage in panic buying of any product. People are suffering. More so, what’s the need for panic buying when some trusted major and independent petrol stations will have fuel to sell? They can go on strike. I have no problem with that”, she said.
Some of the petrol station attendants who spoke with Sunday Tribune but did not mention their names disclosed that people were not worried about the strike because they are not financially buoyant to stock the products.
A motorist, who gave his name as Rabiu Afolabi, berated PTD and NUPENG on the proposed strike action, saying the threat was not necessary. “Let them embark on the strike as they have said. We are already feeling the heat and everybody is in this mess together. It is sad that we misplace our priorities in this country and we dispense our energy on frivolities. I am a graduate. I was forced to do this menial job because I couldn’t continue to live in poverty. Now, some group of persons are threatening to embark on strike, I urge them to go ahead”.
At some of the petrol stations visited by Sunday Tribune, motorists bought the product without stress and same was the situation at other places. A motorist who spoke with Sunday Tribune at Molete area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital said he was not aware of any threat by the petroleum marketers.
“I am hearing this for the first time. This issue of strike is becoming less popular as far as I am concerned because the last time we embarked on strike on this same issue, nothing good came out of it. My problem is not with the government but the tanker drivers that are said threatening to embark on the strike. We dare them to go on strike. I can assure you that it will not last a day before it is called off”, he said.
The feeling was the same for many motorists with many of them claiming that the planned strike was not the solution to the myriad of problems confronting the country. They urged NUPENG and PTD to shelve the strike in the best interest of the people.
In Ilorin the Kwara State capital and in some parts of the state, there was no sign of panic buying among vehicle owners. According to a federal civil servant, Mr Ambrose Okunola, “The government should respond to the demand of the tanker drivers. They should not allow this problem to fester beyond control because it will put more pain and hardship on the poor masses”.
The situation was the same in Abeokuta as many commuters and motorist claimed they were not aware of the strike and would not engage in any panic buying. While speaking with Sunday Tribune, Mr Lekan Adewuyi, said he was not aware of the strike called by the petroleum tankers and he was full of assurance that it would not last. He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to dialogue with PTD members on the planned action.
“Nigerians are presently managing their frugal resources in view of the economic crisis. No one could afford to use money meant for food to buy fuel in their cars or generating set.”
Investigation conducted by Sunday Tribune in Osogbo, Osun State, indicated there had been no panic buying of petroleum product by motorists in petrol stations visited. Motorcyclists and motorists drove freely into petrol stations located on Gbongan/Ibadan express way to buy the product.
Some oil marketers were dispensing the product at N145 per litre while a few others were selling at N144 and N143 per litre. A commercial driver identified as Kazeem Oladele said “We are not aware of any strike here and even if there was any threat, let them go ahead”.
In Lagos State, commercial bus drivers claimed to be unaware of the proposed strike but prayed that the tanker drivers would change their minds before the commencement of the strike.
“I am not aware of any strike but my prayer is that they would shelve it. Things are difficult already. Any strike action now will certainly increase the hardship of many of us,” Ajibade said.