By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Pro-labour civil society organisations, on the platform of Joint Action Front, JAF, has said the Federal Government had, in 2016, promised to use the gains and differential from the hike in the pump price of petrol to provide welfare and social services to Nigerians as well as fix the nation’s four refineries.
Recall that the pump price of petrol was, in 2016, increased from N86.50 to N145 per litre.
While faulting the government’s claims that it had spent N10.413 trillion on subsidy in the past 13 years, Secretary of JAF, Abiodun Aremu, in a chat with Vanguard challenged the government to publicly disclose what had accrued as revenue to Nigeria from the sales of crude oil from May 11, 2016 to August 2020.
According to him, “this regime, like the previous regimes since 1999, is a scam and they are agents of international capitalists.
“The regime by its pronouncement that its immediate predecessor and it have spent over N10 trillion on fuel subsidy, must be exposed for its lies and atrocities.
“First, on May 11, 2016, the Buhari regime in its defence of fuel price hike from N86.50 to N145 per litre of petrol, claimed that it had removed subsidy from all petroleum products — kerosene, diesel and petrol.
“Following the protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and JAF against the fuel price hike from May 18 to 20, 2016, the regime repressed and sponsored a divisive conference of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, on May 23, 2016.
“The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Minister of Communication were supervisors of the government side, while the current Minister of State for Labour, who was then a part of the CSOs, acted as the go-between/facilitator of the conference.
“The premeditated conference, which was aimed at scuttling the mass resistance, assured that the total removal of the subsidy would be of immense benefits to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“The government told us that the ‘gains and differential between N86.50 and N145 would be saved for the provision of social welfare services to Nigerians and used for the repairs of the refineries’.
“The government equally promised that the fund would be jointly managed by its committee and CSOs.
“If we may ask, if the regime has removed subsidy since May 11, 2016 till August 2020, how come it is now floating a non-existence figure of subsidy expenditures in trillions of Naira?
“Rather than being hoodwinked by this regime, we should ask the regime to declare the total amount of unpaid subsidies of the differential between N86.50 and N145 saved from May 11, 2016 to August 2020, which we strongly believe must have been looted.
“The regime should publicly disclose what accrued as the revenue from the sales of crude oil from May 11, 2016 to August 2020.
“What is the total budget approved for the regime from 2016 to 2020 to claim that it has spent such overblown figures of subsidy?
“The regime was not elected by Nigerians on the basis of private looters, but for public interest.
“Nigerians must be prepared for a long-drawn struggle to end the unjust rule of exploitation and dehumanisation.
“Enough should be enough of IMF and World Bank puppet regime impositions of sufferings and hardships on Nigerians. We must dare to struggle in order to dare to win.”