|Building Leverage and Unity on Fuel Subsidy Struggle|
Text of Press Conference, Abuja, 13th January 2012
Fundamentals of the fuel subsidy struggle: Remove Corruption, not subsidy
Over the past two weeks Nigerians have been protesting the removal of subsidy on petrol. After the needless loss of lives of no less than twenty innocent Nigerians, the Federal Government finally decided to call organised labour and civil society, to the negotiation table.
We want to assure all Nigerians that the organized labour and civil society remain committed to the demands of Nigerians for the price of petrol to be reinstated to N65 per litre. We also take this opportunity to assure Nigerians, that the call by NLC/TUC for protests to reconvene on Monday January 16th 2012 does not indicate that an agreement has been reached. This break is to provide all Nigerians an opportunity to restock and ‘refuel’ to continue with renewed vigour and commitment to our demands for the price of petrol to be revert to N65 per litre.
This protest is no longer solely about the fuel subsidy – it is now a movement against corruption in the down stream petroleum sector.
Although N1.3 trillion is quoted as the cost of subsidy, the total amount spent in 2011 was even higher and amounted to over N1.6 trillion paid out to the cabal so far. This vast amount that Nigeria lost is composed of a genuine subsidy component of about N280-300 billion and 1.3 trillion Naira that is the stolen loot taken by the cabal. The stolen loot can be decomposed in two components. One component is the fake template with 14 inflated items used by PPPRA. The second component is round tripping and false accounting recently outlined by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
As Labour and civil society negotiates a resolution with government on the subsidy issue, let us make it clear that the resolution cannot be based on simply changing the pump price of petrol from N141+ to N100 or N80. The resolution can only be based on dismantling the corrupt subsidy regime which has become the most stupendous record of looting in the history of Nigeria.
We therefore make the following demands:
1. Immediate reversal to N65 per litre for a 6 months period during which we work out a framework for dismantling the cabal and its corrupt subsidy regime by investigating, prosecuting and punishing those found to be involved.
2. The Goodluck Jonathan administration must accepts that Nigerians have a right to benefit from their God given resources. After all the government has an agreement with OPEC to allocate 445,000 barrels a day for local refining and consumption.
3. That we develop a time bound program for re-establishing the capacity to process and sell these allocations to Nigerians at a cheap rate. Nigerians have entitlements which cannot be ignored or disregarded.
4. We insist that the 1.47 trillion Naira proposed for Security in the 2012 Budget must be reviewed downwards to provide for the cost of maintaining the real subsidy (300 Billion Naira) and providing for other vital services which have been cut in the budget especially in the health and education sectors.
5. That the Goodluck Jonathan Administration must accept basic democratic principles. The views of citizens must not only be accepted but must be the basis for all policy development and implementation.
Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim
Director, Centre for Democracy and Development
President, United Action for Democracy
Advocates for Change and Social Justice
Executive Director, Centre LSD
Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Country Director, Action Aid Nigeria
Women Environmental Programme
For and on Behalf of Nigeria Civil Society