CNG, Northern Stakeholders Release Position Paper On Fuel Subsidy Removal, NLC Strike, Others
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has disclosed the organisation’s position after taking stock of developments in the country since the announcement of the withdrawal of oil subsidy on May 29th by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his inaugural speech.
The resolutions were contained in a position paper released at the end of a one-day townhall meeting of SCOs, NGOs and northern stakeholders organised by the Coalition Of Northern Groups (CNG) at Arewa House, Kaduna, Kaduna State.
According the document signed by the CNG’s Spokesperson, who doubles as the Chairman of the Communique Draft Committee, Comrade Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the northern groups noted that Nigeria spent 2.91 trillion naira ($7 billion) towards petrol subsidy between January and September 2022, which the Stakeholders said was largely responsible for the country’s dwindling public finances.
The CNG stated that this was confirmed by immediate past Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed at a panel discussion at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund during the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2022, when she said: the federal government has set aside 3.36 trillion naira ($7.5 bln) to spend on costly petrol subsidy until mid-2023.
They said that available data that further expose the unforgivable level of disabling corruption perpetrated with the subsidy regime in favour of a few individuals include the following major public projects that cost less than Nigeria’s $15.6bn subsidy:
- $2bn Siemens power deal.
- $2.3bn Lagos-Kano Rail.
- $11bn Lagos – Calabar Rail.
- $3bn Port-Hercourt -Maiduguri Rail.
- $9bn Wembley Stadiums, 1 in each zone at $1.5bn.
- $3.8bn AKk Gas Project.
- $5.3bn NLNG T7 Project.
The CNG and the stakeholders noted that sources from the budget office also show that payment for the fraudulent subsidy for the first four months of 2022 was N1.46 trn.
“And according to a September 11 2022 NMPDRA report, Nigeria consumes 66.8 million litres of petroleum daily, for which the average subsidy per litre, according to a September 3, 2022 report by NNPC is N200, making subsidy per day N13.36bn and N4.88tr per year.
“Similarly, the Federal Government budgeted N580 billion for subsidy in January 2023, more than the annual budgets of Anambra and Kaduna States put together.
By this figure, the subsidy for 6 months stands far above the combined annual budgets for Ministries of Defence, Education and Health.
“Worried by this entrenched scam, successive governments in Nigeria have tried and failed to remove or cut the subsidy, which has greatly constrained Nigeria’s development goals, as the subsidies mostly only benefit few wealthy households.
“Concerned by these revelations, and the backlash from some quarters that followed the announcement of the withdrawal of the subsidies by the President, CNG convened a one-day stakeholder roundtable of all its 150 affiliates and other northern interest groups at the Arewa House, Kaduna on June 6, 2023”, Comrade Abdul-Azeez Suleiman examined.
The position paper noted that at the end of the Townhall discussions, the following inevitable observations were drawn:
- That generally, subsidy is an evil that subsequent previous governments groomed and fed fat all these years to the detriment of the masses.
- That all along, the oil subsidy has been a conduit pipe for siphoning public funds for the benefit of a very few members of a powerful cartel at the expense of the entire nation.
- That since assumption of office, the former President Muhammadu Buhari had made several promises of rehabilitating the nation’s refineries, all of which he failed to fulfill. Instead, he pursued unpopular deregulation programmes while maintaining the fraudulent subsidy regime and further plunging the nation into deeper crisis and mass suffering.
- That on emergence as Nigeria’s new President, Bola Tinubu disclosed that the current budget handed over to him by former President Buhari did not provide for the petrol subsidy and therefore it is gone, which did not go down well with the exploiter class that benefits from the subsidy budgets.
In their reactions, the stakeholders stated that since Tinubu’s announcement of the removal of the fuel subsidy, the cartel that has been reaping its benefits at the expense of the suffering masses, has waged a campaign about the fictitious knock-on effects that it will have on the daily lives of Nigerians.
“Not quite unexpected, the Nigeria Labour Congress typically joined in the frenzy and deliberately escalated tensions with its usual threats of mass action that has completely lost meaning over time.
“While this is going on, we observe that the government is yet to publicly suggest ways to mitigate the impact of this decision for people on low incomes or suggest a permanent solution to this recurring standoff”, they said.
Making their stand known, the CNG and the northern stakeholders said that as “responsible representatives of the interests of the vast majority of Northern society, we have resolved to take the following definite measures:
The public: 1. To call the attention of the public that the petroleum resources is a natural endowment bestowed for the collective benefit of all the people of Nigeria.
- To remind the majority of Nigerian citizens that they are more entitled to the benefits accrueable from this commonwealth than any individual or group of persons.
- To remind Nigerians that they must not, for whatever reason, be made to pay the price of decades of political and economic mismanagement of the subsidy scheme.
- To urge the public to therefore be less amenable to the damaging propaganda campaigns by the merciless cartel that have been impoverishing the nation while pocketing the subsidy proceeds for their personal benefits and those of their immediate families.
- To call on the public to resist the antics of the citadel of corruption and their foot soldiers that are now fighting back the bold but necessary step taken to save the nation from the subsidy wastage that only benefits them.
- We call on the public to not the typical sell out that manifested in the recent action of the NLC and to resist any further attempt to once again deceive them into embarking on another round of futile exercise wrapped on the back of ulterior and dubious motives.
- We call on the public to remain calm, focused, patient and vigilant while demanding from government full protection of their collective rights over the resources God has endowed them with.
Federal Government: 1. We remind the Federal Government that Nigeria is the Nigeria of all Nigerians and its resources belong to all Nigerians regardless of status and it will not be acceptable for only a minor favoured capitalist class to be allowed to exploit and monopolize the total available economic activity in the country at the detriment of the larger majority.
- We impress on the Federal Government the urgency in finding a permanent solution to this unacceptable exploitation by, among others, reactivating the nation’s refineries and moving urgently and seriously to complete the exploration of the newly discovered oil reserves in Kolmari Bauchi/Gombe states and in Kogi.
- While acknowledging the reality that all countries, including Nigeria, are required to eventually remove all fossil fuel subsidies to meet their human rights obligations, it is also important that the removal of the subsidy is accompanied by social cushioning and protection measures.
- Before a permanent solution is put in place which would hopefully bring down the prices of Petroleum to affordable limits, we plead with Mr President to dispassionately look into the current price of N540 per litre pegged by the NNPCL and bring it much lower down immediately.
- We urge the Tinubu administration to finally respond to longstanding demands to investigate the fuel market chain, and to hold accountable all those involved in smuggling, hoarding and ‘subsidy scams’ — regardless of rank or status.
- We demand the Federal Government to urgently put in place measures to protect the rights of people most affected by the removal of the fuel subsidies and prioritize addressing widespread hunger, higher unemployment and the rapidly falling standard of living.
Why We Oppose NLC
The participants at this Townhall meeting are all aware of the serial sellout, compromise and mass betrayal perpetrated by the NLC whenever matters of serious national concern are at stake.
It is difficult not to remember the incidences of 2017, 2018 and of course 2021 all of which the NLC dubiously took lead to protest only to abandon the struggle midway.
On each occasion, labour ends up negotiating for wage increase for their members who constitute less than one percent of the total population of Nigerians; increses which almost all the time result in heightened inflation as commodity prices always shoot up as a result.
These are the main reasons why we have lost faith in the ability or willingness of the organized Labour to act on behalf of, or speak for the interest of the Nigerian public.
And unless labour amends its ways, we shall continue to distrust every of its actions and shall call the public to disrespect every of its decisions.