A text of the media briefing issues organized by Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights - CCIDESOR.
The Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights wishes to advice and appeal to federal government and its conniving state governors to rescind the plan to increase the petroleum pump price by the beginning of 2012.
CCIDESOR condemns this planned increase in its entirety for the following reasons:
- The so called subsidy is apparent and not real as it emanates from global oil price differential which is difficult to apply in an economy that does not pay its workforce in the same spirit.
- Government’s argument for the fuel subsidy removal is not sound, convincing and clear. It smacks of an attempt to show that Nigeria does not have any other solution to any economic challenge except oil.
- The level of underdevelopment of Nigeria cannot be blamed on either low or high cost of petroleum products but rather on corruption. It is a fact from acceptable research findings that over $400billon dollars of oil revenue has been looted since independence. The same corruption has been the biggest threat to our democracy and development not fuel subsidy
- This increase being proposed at this most difficult time of Nigeria’s economic history will neither serve citizens nor government any good because of its catastrophic economic and social consequences which government does not have the capacity to insulate citizens from. The President should not see the call by Nigerians as “we versus them” before harking to the calls asking government to step down on this
- The petroleum sector, which is the backbone of Nigeria’s economy is one of the most corrupt sector in Nigeria, they cannot be trusted with such a sensitive issue that has a huge effect on th lives and livelihood of Nigerians.
- The president in his inaugural speech promised Nigerians that, he will never never disappoint them. It will be a huge disappointment to Nigerians if their call on government to stop the price increases is not accepted. Even if there is a subsidy, there is no sense in collecting it from the people only to promise to give it back to them in a different way.
- The insistence of Governors on the removal of the “subsidy” so that they will be able to pay minimum wage is a cover to ensure that more money is available to loot as the record of many past governors show that they have soiled fingers in the public coffers
- The level of unemployment is high, the standard of living is too poor due to hyperinflation and the economy is too weak to allow further imposition of burden on already devastated Nigerians.
- The removal of fuel “subsidy” is a call for the surviving companies to fold up, for more graduate to be unemployed and for poverty to skyrocket
- We call on the people to prevail on their elected senators and House of representative members to oppose this plan as it will be an economic doom for the poor and economic boom for the rich and powerful. Nigeria has earned billions of dollars from oil revenue since the return of democracy in 1999. There is little or nothing to show for this huge earning. There is nothing that will guarantee any money generated from being stolen by those in position of power.
- That is why we want to ask these questions:
- How many public officers (particularly governors) have been have jailed on account of corruption?
- How many public officers (particularly the elected ones) that are being tried in courts for corruption?
- How many public officers are living within the range of their salary?
- How of oil revenue has been used well since 1999?
- What is responsible for the importation of almost all petroleum products needed for local consumption is it because we don’t have refineries?
- Why has kerosene, which is the only petroleum product that benefits the poor, been scarce and expensive since 1999?
- Why is House of representatives wants to buy over 360 Toyota cars, running into billions, for oversight functions when they can save Nigerians such by buying few buses for each committee, yet it is important to remove fuel subsidy?
- Why is it easy for the governors and the federal government to agree on this subsidy removal without any waste of time whereas there is a looming legal suite over sovereign wealth fund?
- Why did it take many weeks of national and state industrial actions to force most governors to commence payment of minimum wage?
- If there is no money for development, why are senators and house members, most of whom are former governors, are paying themselves more than the president of America. Can that money be channeled to development projects? Nigerians have been made to suffer enough in the past.
- On the issue of fuel subsidy, we are yet to understand the economic argument of government on whether there is a subsidy at all and the real reason behind the subsidy? Many experts are ready for this debate which the government has developed cold feet for this argument. The popular belief is there is no real subsidy but paper subsidy calculated from the international oil price. If the transportation of fuel or importation adds to what they call subsidy, who is responsible for it? Do we not have mega refineries with the capacity of serving Nigerians, why are they not serving Nigerians? Why should Nigerian sell oil to local refineries at international price but insists not to pay the average international minimum wage which if you put together what 5 developed countries pay, the least a Nigeria worker should be going home with over N300,000.
- We therefore state that:
- Increasing fuel price will increase the poverty of Nigerians
- It will increase job loss and unemployment rate
- It will increase the level of crime and crime related activities
- It will make Nigerians to further lose faith in democracy as if Nigeria democracy is synonymous to hardship and recession.
- It will reduce standard of living and of many Nigerians that will live below poverty rate.
- it will weaken the economy further
- Many companies will fold due to high cost of production
- Level of corruption will go up
- It will threaten the economic and social security of over 90% of our population
We are therefore calling on federal government and all governors and national assembly:
- To discontinue with such wicked proposal which will not do this nation any good?
- Further demonstrate that they are a listening government
- To publish how the subsidies are arrived at and who is paid that amount
- To stop all planned increases including water and power charges
- To embark on reduction of cost of governance to generate more money to put into development
- To step up their political will to fight corruption which will allow public resources to be judiciously used for development
- To embark on more creative ways to solve our economic challenges other than fuel price increase
- To work to reduce the inflation rate which is all time high
- Make a conscious effort to diversify the economy and leave the oil sector alone.
- Publicly publish payments and revenue generated from the petroleum sector
We all should remember that your position on this fuel issue will always be used to assess who you are. Let us join hands together to convince government to drop this intention which is likely to lead so many Nigerians to untimely death. A stitch in time saves nine.
Thank you for acting positively against the increase.