Early this year, when the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan announced a removal of the fuel subsidy, increasing the price from N65 to N141 per litre, Nigerians came out to the street in large numbers, protesting the increase until the price was reduced to N97. From North to South to East to West, the streets were taken over by citizens protesting the hike and for once in a long time, we spoke with one voice.
Now, few months later, reports by the Farouk Lawan led House of Representatives’ Ad -Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe has revealed that over N1.7trn was looted by fuel marketers and government agencies.
The news has come as a shock to Nigerians who feel sorely cheated. While the Federal Government was giving excuses that it could no longer fund subsidies on the price of fuel and wanted to use the money for other developmental projects in the country, the money has actually been there all along but was looted by some agencies including the the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA), Department of Petroleum Resources, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and other petroleum marketing companies.
To protest this, convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, and others recently served notice to the Federal Government of another round of mass protest in Lagos and other towns in the country, following the House of Representatives’ report on how over N1.7trn was looted by fuel marketers’and government agencies.
Similarly, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, another leader of the group at a press conference urged Nigerians to get ready for another determined protest over the fuel subsidy scam adding that the Farouk-Lawan report shows that Nigerians have been dehumanized.
“I have studied the figures revealed by the probe and I pinch myself to be sure that I am really living in the real world. Nigerians are being bludgeoned into sensitivity by sheer excessive corruption by public officials. We are being treated, not even as second class citizens, but excessively dehumanized,” Mr. Soyinka said.
Mr. Bakare queried how Nigeria spent N3 trillion in 2011 above the N245 billion budgeted for subsidy the same year, as revealed by the probe. He commended the House of Representatives for its consideration and adoption of the subsidy probe report in a record time of two days.
“In 2011, the report reveals that we spent almost N3tn on subsidy, and the ones (subsidies) paid for the previous years were lower than that. Do they think we are idiots? This shall go down in history as one act of redemption by a chamber of the National Assembly that has not done much since 1999, to endear itself to the people it represents,” he said.
He said that the time had come to save Nigeria from the grip of corruption, warning that the SNG would call the people out for massive protests if those indicted were not seen to be prosecuted speedily.
Mr. Soyinka on his part urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), to immediately launch the prosecution of all those involved to prevent Nigeria from being a laughing stock in the world.
“So far, we have not heard any of the figures disputed by relevant government parastatals in the oil industry. The facts on ground are enough for the EFCC and ICPC to establish a prima facie case against those indicted,” he said.
The SNG said that it had started dissecting the report, adding that another “Occupy Nigeria”, was imminent if government failed to act swiftly in prosecuting the culprits.
If these protests go on as planned, it would be the second time this year Nigerians are protesting over Fuel Subsidies.
So, are you in support of the protests? Do you think massive protests is what we need to push the Federal Government into action on prosecuting the culprits? Will you join them to ‘Occupy Nigeria’ once again?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: NAN | Punch News