As the controversy over the plan by the Nigerian government to remove fuel subsidy deepens, the main opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on Monday rejected the plan.
In a statement issued in Lagos and obtained by PANA, ACN called the proposal to withdraw fuel subsidy ”the handiwork of those propelled by the philosophy of the ‘Washington Consensus’ of rolling back the frontiers of the state.”
Under the plan announced by the government, the price of a litre of fuel will go up from 65 naira (4 US cents) to as high as 150 naira (about US$1) from next year.
ACN said the action will further impoverish Nigerians, and wondered why the government is more concerned about the savings to be made from the withdrawal of subsidy.
”Primarily, the basic objective of any fiscal policy is to improve the living conditions of the people through poverty reduction and the provision of welfare services. The removal of subsidy must therefore go beyond the cheap argument of improving the solvency of the government.
”To reduce the responsibility of the government to its citizen to Naira and Kobo tokenism is tantamount to abdicating responsibility, and this has far reaching consequences not only on the sustainability of our democracy but the continued existence of the nation as a unified entity,” it said.
The party also said the only reason the issue of fuel subsidy has continued to recur is because Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producing nation, imports petroleum products for domestic consumption, warning that so long as importation continues, the problem that the government sets out to confront would continue like a recurring decimal.
It said the template being used by the government, which puts the pump price per litre of petrol at 144.70 Naira instead of the current price of 65 Naira, is fraught with inaccuracies and amounts to making the ordinary Nigerian to pay for the inefficiency of relevant government agencies.
”In any case, why should Nigeria, with huge crude oil deposits, have to import refined products? Why should Nigerians pay for the resources so bestowed on them by God through their noses? Why is the price of products, even among importer/exporter nations higher in Nigeria? The answer lies in the crude, prebendal, corruption-ridden state system that we run in this country.
”For example the pump price of petrol in Iran is N58.40, N30.66k in Kuwait, N32.12k in Qatar, and N17.52k in Saudi Arabia while it is a meager N5.84k in Venezuela. In Egypt pump price of petrol is N46.72k, while it is N39.42k in Bahrain. It is N135 in the USA for high premium inclusive of all state and federal taxes,” ACN said.
As a way out of the subsidy conundrum, the party proposed the establishment of ”modular refineries” with a total of 280,000 barrels per day refining capacity in nine cities across the country, in addition to reviving the existing ones