The group in a communique after a one-day national town hall meeting on “removal of fuel subsidy”, in Abuja, said fuel subsidy which has existed for decades has been without transparency and accountability, a development that has caused the Federal government to spend a whopping sum of N250 billion monthly.
The communique which was signed by the National Chairman of the group, Isah Abubakar, Secretary, Joe Moses and two other officials after a town hall meeting held on Sunday, said the removal of the fuel subsidy regime as planned would facilitate the implementation of the 2022 national budget of N17.13 trillion.
“The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations and professionals drawn from various parts of the country met on Sunday 9th January 2022 for a “National Town Hall Meeting on Removal of Petroleum Subsidy”.
“The National Town Hall Meeting on Removal of Petroleum Subsidy has observed that the petroleum subsidy regime which has existed for decades has been without transparency, credibility and accountability in the process leading to payments of claims to the so-called beneficiaries of the arrangement.
“The town hall meeting observed that the monthly payment of over N250 billion monthly has done serious damage to the economy and for decades, the financial burden has retarded the growth and development of the country and if the trend is not reversed, it would continue to degenerate the nation’s revenue until the economy would have been irrevocably damaged.”
The CSOs noted that the subsidy was responsible for fuel smuggling across the borders, arguing that, if ended, the smuggling challenge would reduce, adding that the subsidy should be completely removed to allow fresh breath in the country.
“That the town hall meeting observed that the petroleum subsidy was responsible for fuel smuggling across the neighbouring countries, such as Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The situation would abate to a large extent if the fuel subsidy regime is abolished and would also strengthen the availability of fuel in the downstream sector of the economy.
“The Town Hall Meeting supports absolute removal of fuel subsidy and the funds in the tune of N250 billion be channelled into the development of infrastructure across the country.
“The meeting also noted and commended the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited for the construction of 28 Federal Roads across the Federation. Adding that roads are critical infrastructure, hence, if the ongoing roads are completed, the NNPC should as a matter of policy continue to plough funds into reconstruction and rehabilitation of category ‘A’ roads so as to enhance the economic development of the country.
While it commended the NNPC management for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, the group urged the continuous reforms to reposition the oil and gas industry as one of the best in the world.”
They urged the FG to ensure the maintenance and rehabilitation of the government refineries to meet local fuel consumption in the country.
“The town hall meeting throw its weight behind the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Subsidy Limited under the leadership of the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari for the systematic implementation of the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA). It further called for continuous reforms that would see the upstream and downstream petroleum sector being the best in the world.
“The meeting further resolved that the Refineries in Port Harcourt and Kaduna be reactivated and upgraded to be able to refine fuel at an optimum capacity for local consumption and given that the country heavily depends on the oil as its monolithic economic mainstay, the NNPC should continue to roll out policies that would keep the petroleum sector streaming.”
On the palliative, the group tasked the Federal government to ensure payment to citizens, saying that it will cushion the effect of the subsidy removal and also urged the Nigeria Labour Congress not to embark on an industrial strike, but to allow dialogue.
“That the planned palliative by the Federal government to the citizens in the circumstance that the fuel subsidy regime is fully scrapped is a noble idea, as it would mitigate hardships occasioned by the removal of subsidy that may probably trigger difficulties in the cost of transportation, even as it was further identified that the NNPC should ensure availability of fuel across sales stations and effective fuel price control mechanisms until the shock is curtailed.
Organisations represented in the coalition and signed the Communique include Centre for Economic Development, Civil Society Watch, Human Rights Advocacy Group, Nigeria Policy Advocacy Centre among 78 others.