Nigeria’s main opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), has re-stated its opposition to the plan by the federal government to remove fuel subsidy, saying the pains that the action will inflict on Nigerians who are already reeling from the effects of bad governance will far outstrip whatever ‘gains’ will accrue therefrom.
”We remain on the side of the people. We feel their pulse and their pains. We believe the removal of fuel subsidy is a great misadventure, and have conveyed our stand on the issue in a letter to the President, though we never got a response,” the party said in a statement issued Tuesday.
The Nigerian government has said it could no longer afford to subsidize fuel in view of the impact of the subsidy on the economy.
This year alone, according to government figures, over 1.3 trillion naira was spent on fuel subsidy (US$1=155 naira).
The government is currently consulting with stakeholders, after which it will announce the date for the removal, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said recently.
Apparently in reaction to government’s statement that the savings from the fuel subsidy removal will be used to provide infrastructure, the ACN wondered what a government was elected to do, if it is now tying the provision of infrastructure to the removal of fuel subsidy.
”President Jonathan did not tell Nigerians, during his electioneering campaign, that his administration will only be able to deliver the dividends of democracy by removing fuel subsidy.
”Therefore, it amounts to arm twisting the people to say that funds saved from fuel subsidy removal will be used to construct roads, build hospitals and schools and otherexpectations from the government. The government should have been honest enough to say it is seeking ways to raise money for governance, and Nigerians would have been glad enough to let it know how to raise money without resorting to a phantom fuel subsidy removal,” the party said.
‘It added: ‘Our message to the President is that if he feels he cannot explore other areas to raise money for development, like cutting down on government excesses, then he should say so clearly and leave the stage for those who can ensure development with minimal pains.
Our party, the ACN, will provide good governance without removing fuel subsidy, and we are ready to do so today if the Jonathan government cannot.”
There is widespread opposition to the plan to end fuel subsidy from workers’ unions, civil society organisations and opposition parties, among others, who contend that the action will worsen poverty.
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, imports refined petroleum products to augment the below-capacity production from the country’s refineries