Group backs subsidy removal, says elites pocketing trillions annually


…. Begs Labour not to strike

From Uche Usim, Abuja

A pressure group, Citizens Voice Against Corruption (CIVAC), has thrown its full weight behind President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s decision to end petrol subsidy, saying the scheme has become a well-oiled conduit for the elites to siphon trillions of naira annually.

CIVAC, a congregation of numerous civil society organizations and professional bodies, also advised the organised labour to bury the plans of embarking on strike because of its far-reaching economic and security implications.

The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Abdulrazaq Alkali, said subsidy should be discarded because Nigeria has not been able to reap bountiful dividends from oil and gas endowments for many reasons; which includes a criminally-designed subsidy payment structure that gulps the bulk of oil proceeds and leaves the shorter end of the stick to other areas like health, security and education.

According to him, the organized labour, rather than striking, should mount pressure on the federal government to urgently revamp the three ailing national refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port-Harcourt; which can play a significant role in easing the pressure on Nigeria’s forex reserve thus strengthening the naira.

“The intended strike and protest will put a halt on the operations of government offices, banks, shopping centres, schools, transportation, among others. It will also significantly affect the informal sectors including markets and local transportation services. This will bring untold hardship to Nigerians and have a significant damaging effect on an already struggling economy. “Paralysing the country of more than 200 million people, the majority of whom live on daily wages will be highly irrational.

“Moreover, considering the delicate security situation in the country, it will be of great concern that grieving politicians, provocateurs and anarchist can hijack the strike to stage protests and demonstrations, or hide under the cover of protestors and promote discord, anarchy and unleash mayhem to the detriment of public peace. We have all witnessed how criminal elements hijacked the End SARs protest and the amount of looting and burning that took place, while turning into tribal violence and killings in some states

“A strong naira and local refining capacity will make petroleum products cheap even without subsidies. In addition if these refineries are revamped, hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created, thus creating a multiplier effect in the fight against poverty and the growth of our economy”, Alkali explained.

He condemned what he called the hypocrisy of some Nigerian political figures to suddenly criticize President Tinubu for ending the subsidy when all Presidential candidates, during their electioneering campaigns, promised to junk it.

“The leaders of NLC and TUC should rise up to their duties and stop playing to the gallery or the books of some elites who are benefitting immensely from the petroleum subsidy. NLC and TUC need to get their acts together by putting the future and survival of Nigeria first”, he added.

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