Indications emerged on Friday that Nigerian lawmakers may have soft-pedalled on their vehement opposition to the planned removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.
The private Nation reported that the MPs have given four conditions under which they would support the removal of fuel subsidy, listing them as the publication of the list of the beneficiaries of the past fuel subsidy; presentation of facts and figures on the subsidy; release of palliative measures Nigerians will enjoy after the removal and a concrete plan to make local refineries work at full capacity.
The stance contradicts reports in local newspapers earlier this week, saying leaders of the bicameral legislature stoutly rejected the removal of fuel subsidy, at a meeting with President Jonathan.
“We have presented these tall demands to our principal officers as conditions for the acceptance of the government’s plans to withdraw fuel subsidy. “We said they should take all these conditions to (President Goodluck) Jonathan and get satisfactory answers before we can back him. Our position cuts across all parties in the National Assembly,” the paper quoted a National Assembly (parliament) source as saying Friday.
The development immediately elicited angry reactions from Nigerians, many of whom vented their anger in their postings on the website of the newspaper.
”I am now so disappointed by our so called Senators,” wrote someone identified simply as ‘Nigeria’. ”Could this whole meeting with Jonathan be a set up to show us that they are not initially for subsidy and then later on after some well planned-out other meetings they
will all agree that Jonathan has met their conditions and for the subsidy to be removed?” .
Another commentator, Ola, wrote: ”GEJ (President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) is the worst president so far in our sojourn as a nation. His sheer cluelessness and empty gut displayed so far have attested to this. In fact, the four years of his government will no doubt be a waste to this nation. I’m sorry for my people.”
There is widespread opposition to the removal of fuel subsidy, which many believe will worsen poverty in Africa’s most populous nation.
But the government has warned that the economy cannot continue to support an annual fuel subsidy of over 1 trillion naira (US$1=155 naira).
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, imports refined petroleum products for most of its domestic consumption because the four local refineries are functioning far below installed capacity