Friday, January 6, 2012

Nigerian Bar Association Says No to Fuel Subisdy Removal

Fuel Subsidy Crisis: CNPP, NBA, Muslim Congress, Support Protests; NBA Outlines Way Forward

In the its strongly-worded statement, the NBA said: “It is clear that Nigerians do not and will not tolerate subsidy removal under the terms and conditions set out or laid down by Government. Any removal of subsidy based on the importation of petroleum products is unacceptable to Nigerians. Government must create the infrastructure for the refining 100% of petroleum products in Nigeria and by Nigerians. It had been done in the past, it was sabotaged, and it can and will be done again.”
TMC, aligning itself with well-meaning Nigerians, advocacy groups, labour unions and civil societies to condemn “the wicked, sudden, deceptive and heartless removal of the fuel subsidy,” described the new policy as a diabolical agenda orchestrated by the ruling elites in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deregulate the downstream oil sector for their self-fish ends.
It pointed out that the fuel subsidy removal conflicts with, and has rubbished the objectives of all the ongoing developmental programmes of the Nigerian government especially the Millennium Development Goal which seeks to reduce the number of people living in poverty by 2015; the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President; the poverty-reduction thrust of Vision 20: 2020 and worsened the Human Development Index In Nigeria.

It described the sudden removal of fuel subsidy on New Year’s Day as deceptive and lacking transparency because not only was the policy initially proposed for experimentation in April 2012 in order to allow for more robust dialogue and public discussion with all concerned stakeholders, each time fuel subsidy is removed, the proceeds develop wings and end up in the pockets and coffers of bureaucrats, petroleum ministers and their cohorts and they become billionaires overnight.
The NBA said that contrary to the impression being given by the government that there is no alternative to eliminating the subsidy, trillions of Naira would be freed up for developmental projects if the government applied half the vigour with which it has pursued the issue of the removal of subsidy to the eradication of corruption in all the arms of Government and in society.
But where and if Government persists on this suicidal course of action, the association said, the options open to the people include:
•    A call on the National Assembly to officially and formally declare its position on the removal of fuel subsidy;
•    If the National Assembly sides with the People, then it must in the same transaction call on the President to rescind or reverse its actions on subsidy removal;
•    Should their call not be heeded by the President then the National Assembly should seriously consider impeachment proceedings; the president having lost the confidence of Nigerians to continue to rule or lead them;
•    If the Legislators fail to take the desired actions then Nigerians will commence the constitutional process to recall them.
The TMC similarly advised Mr. Jonathan that in place of his “lazy” policy of fuel subsidy removal, his government should:
•    Rehabilitate the nation’s moribund refineries for optimal performance;
•    Encourage private sector refineries through attractive incentives/tax concessions,
•    Improve the nation’s income potentials in agriculture/exports/manufacturing,
•    Fight against petroleum sector cabal, curb endemic corruption that caused operational inefficiencies of NNPC by establishing Loot Recovery Fund (LRF); and
•    Implement fiscal discipline by cutting down on cost of governance including those earmarked for the Senate/National Assembly/Presidency/Villa put at several billions.

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