Nigeria’s opposition Action Congress (AC) party Wednesda y advised the federal government against removing fuel subsidy at this time, saying it would further hurt and imp overish the ordinary citizens ”who are already living on the edge of survival due to the global economic downturn and t he absence of good governance”.
The party was reacting to the green light given to the federal government Tuesda y to remove the subsidy by the advisory National Economic Council (NEC), which comprises mostly the governors of the country’s 36 states, the Vice President and other major players in the nation’s economy.
NEC argued that the government cannot continue to subsidise fuel prices, which c ost 150 billion naira between January and May this year alone.
But in a statement issued here Wednesday by its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, AC said the ”dubious green light given to the FG by the National Economic Council on Tuesday notwithstanding, the government must act in the interest of the people for once”.
The party called on Nigerians to be ready to resist any attempt to make their bu rdens heavier through the removal of a spurious fuel subsidy, which it said would only ”put more money in the pockets of those who have already bec ome filthy rich by cornering a large chunk of the nationâ?s commonwealth”.
“In a country where citizens generate their own electricity and provide their o wn potable water, and which lacks an efficient transportation system, removing subsidy on fuel, which is a euphemism for higher fuel prices, will furt her raise the cost of living for ordinary citizens.
“It will also compound the woes of the industrial sector, which is currently st anding on wobbly legs due largely to the high cost of production caused by the countryâ?s poor power situation,â?â? the party said.
AC also criticised the government for saying that current fuel subsidy goes larg ely into the pockets of a mafia in the oil sector, saying even if that it true, it is up to the government to fish out the cabal and deal with them accordingly, instead of punishing the citizens for its (governmentâ?s) own inefficiency.
“We think the governmentâ?s argument that a cabal in the oil sector corners th e subsidy is disingenuous and an admission of gross incompetence, which should b e
an embarrassment to any self-respecting government. Saying the people must suffe r for it, in the name of subsidy removal, is like taxing a few people to death because the majority of the citizens refuse to pay tax,â?â? AC said.
The government has not announced the date for the removal of the subsidy, which is expected to be implemented this year.
Analysts said dwindling resources from the country’s main foreign exchange earne r, oil, due to the festering crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, could be
one of the reasons the government is looking into ways of cutting spending.