It seems Nigerians will now brace up for the second edition of Occupy Nigeria, with the resolution by the forum of commissioners of Finance of the 36 states of the federation on Thursday in Abuja demanding a total removal of fuel subsidy.
Recall that in 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan had Removed subsidy on Petroleum products which led to 120% increase in the price of Petrol. That action led to Protests across the country, including in the cities of Kano, Ojota ( -part of greater Lagos ), Abuja, and at the Nigerian High Commission in London. At least 16 people have been killed in Nigeria, all shot dead by the Nigeria Police Force.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr. Timothy Odaah, Thursday told journalists shortly after this month’s Federation Account Allocation Committee’s meeting, that the resolution was passed following irregularities observed in the fuel subsidy regime.
Knowing that the Finance Commissioners all speak for their governor, it is accurate to say that the resolution has got the veto of the various state governors in Nigeria..
The FAAC meeting, which was chaired by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, was convened to consider and approve the statutory allocations for February.
Odaah, who is also the Commissioner of Finance, Ebonyi State, said the resolution on the fuel subsidy regime would be sent to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for transmission to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He described the payment of fuel subsidy as a scam against some states, especially the less industrialised ones, as it had made “the rich to become richer, while the poor are becoming poorer.”
He argued that if Nigerians had not protested against the removal of fuel subsidy in January 2012, most states would have experienced significant level of development by now.
The Federal Government has a budget of N971.1bn for fuel subsidy payment in the 2014 fiscal year, same as in 2013.
Odaah, said, “We looked at subsidy on oil as more or less a solution worse than the problem it is meant to solve.
“Looking at it presently, you will discover that it is not solving the problem, which it is meant to solve. In the first place, the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) and the majority of the Nigerian populace appear to have been deceived into clamouring for subsidy.
“It is a system that robs Peter to pay Paul by making the rich to grow richer and the poor to go poorer.
“There are some states that are fully industrialised and you use this subsidy in that particular place and the people who benefit more are those from the states that are industrialised.”
Odaah added, “The fuel consumption of those industries uses more of the fuel subsidy unlike the states that are under-industrialised.
“So, what we are advocating is that the subsidy be removed so that every state or any member of the federating unit sharing from FAAC will take his own money, then decide to use it or grant subsidy in a level that it will be able to afford.”
The forum also accused oil marketers of taking advantage of the subsidy regime to engage in sharp practices, noting that the payment of subsidy was exerting immense pressure on the Excess Crude Account.