By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
A coalition of 52 Northern groups has developed a position paper that outlines frameworks and strategies that can assist the Federal Government put the recurring controversy over fuel subsidy to a lasting halt.
The Arewa groups said if adopted, the strategies would avert the attendant suffering and devastation that may likely befall the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.
The CNG Director, Strategic Communications, Samaila Musa, said this in a statement on Wednesday, titled, ‘CNG Welcomes Retention of Fuel Subsidy in 2022.’
Musa said the coalition welcomed the suspension of the purported removal of subsidy on fuel by the Federal Government in the 2022 fiscal year.
While advising the authorities to never contemplate the removal of subsidy again, the CNG offered recommendations to the government with a view to solving the fuel subsidy saga once and for all.
He said, “We are quite aware of main reasons advance by the Government and its functionaries in order to remove the subsidy as follows: that subsidy gulps trillions of naira annually; that the fuel is being smuggled to the neighbouring countries because of higher prices; and that the government needs fund for critical infrastructure.
“In view of the above concerns often raised by the government, CNG offers very concrete and pragmatic recommendations to be implemented by the government so that the controversy over subsidy would be put to a halt.
“These recommendations include: “that the Federal Government should block all the leakages through which selfish politicians and civil servants corner public resources for their personal aggrandizement.
“That the Federal Government should use its security architecture to block smuggling the fuel just like it does to stop the importation of rice into the country. It is being done for rice; it is doable for fuel too.
“That Government should rehabilitate and revamp our four comatose national refineries that were jettisoned. The four refineries have a maximum capacity of refining 450,000 barrels per day.
“The government should apply some austerity measures to cut some unnecessary expenses, purchases, travels and tours within and outside the country. Foreign trips with large entourages should also be discouraged by the presidency in order to set an example for others to emulate.
Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and Agencies of the government should equally apply some austerity measures.
“There are so many past and present cases of corrupt practices by politicians and civil servants. The government can recover some reasonable funds here to finance its activities.
National Assemblies should also halt budget padding and reduce the cost of running the legislative arm as their necessary patriotic sacrifices.”
Musa commended Senate President Ahmad Lawan and other federal lawmakers for their intervention which, according to him, ensured that the interest of the Nigerian people prevail.
“Nigerians bear the brunt of economic downturn through a falling standard of living; poor infrastructure; falling standard of education and the neglected healthcare system. They live in abject poverty and squalor amidst elite greed, flamboyance, spendthrift, corrupt practices and wasteful luxurious adventures.
“CNG is therefore closely monitoring the situation as it will never support any policy, pronouncement, activity or programme that is detrimental to the people.
“We hereby use this medium to also inform all CNG zonal/state coordinators and student wing to stand down on all planned protest,” he added.