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To the Church in Nigeria
FG Urged to Be Decisive on Removal of Fuel Subsidy
*Nigerians want Warri, Port Harcourt, Kaduna refineries fixed
*Fuel scarcity: group commends DSS’ intervention
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The federal government has been urged to be more decisive on the issue of petroleum subsidy removal.
Participants at a weekly discussion programme of the African Media Hangout, a platform made up of a group of diverse media professionals made the call at the weekend.
Discussants at the weekly programme included Prof. Tony Afejuku of the University of Benin, Benin City; Pa Patrick Omhonriawho; a Publisher, Oray Osawe, and a retired Editor of News Agency Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Celsius Ohain, among others.
In his contribution, Afejuku identified Nigeria’s major problem as that of leadership, which according to him is the cause of the “subsidy woes.”
While calling on journalists to carry out their watch dog role by doing more investigation on the fuel subsidy in Nigeria, Afejuku urged citizens to protest against fuel scarcity which he said had become a source of trauma, pains to Nigerians.
He said: “Nigeria has only one huge problem. What is this huge problem? The huge problem of leadership. It is the cause of our subsidy woes. With or without subsidy Nigeria will be the progressive country we want it to be if we have the right leadership; if our political leaders are political leaders and not political rulers.”
Another contributor with the username Mr. Oyo said fuel subsidy was not the problem but, “the issue of greed and pursuit of wanton wealth at the expense of Nigerians by the country’s petroleum company, the NNPC and its management.”
Questioning Why the NNPC should be the sole importer of fuel since Nigeria fails to refine her crude, Mr. Oyo said: “Until Nigeria refines her crude locally, the solution lies in deregulation of the market so that importers can set up an independent monitoring body.”
On his part, Osawe, also faulted the payment of subsidy.
He added that since successful governments had failed to stop the payment of subsidy, it meant the government itself was complicit in the fraud.
Also contributing to the discussion, Elder Patrick Omhonriawho popularly called PGO viewed the challenge of subsidy from multiple perspectives, saying “leaders slow pace of decision making with a bicameral legislature; lack of leadership and corruption in every facets of government are major banes.”
He added: “Our leaders slow pace of decision making with a bicameral legislature has not helped matters. This is visible in contract awards for building roads, bridges, fuel depots and rail lines.
“Lack of leadership and corruption in every facets of government is a major issue.”
On his part, Ohain posited that, “fuel subsidy has become somewhat of a mysterious phenomenon in Nigeria because of the aura of secrecy and controversy that surrounds it over the years.”
According to him, “as a nation, our ‘subsidy’ does not seem to meet that acceptable universal stand but has instead become a means to bleed the nation financially.”
While noting that many persons who condemned subsidy while seeking power do the same thing when they get to power, the media practitioner urged government to fix the nation’s refineries so as to stop the importation of fuel cum subsidy.
He added: “Successive governments have done exactly the same thing they condemned on their journey to power, thus making ‘subsidy’ a jinx the nation has found it difficult to extricate itself from.
“Few years ago, there was a subsidy probe and cans or rather, drums of worms were exposed about people getting paid for importing ‘fuel’ with non-existent vessels on high seas.
“The critical question is: Why continue to import finished products when our refineries which remain in comatose could be fixed to enable local refining and export of finished product?
“Why can’t the Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries come to life? These are begging questions. Suffice it to say that successive governments have shown lack of political will to do the needful as the lure of ‘free monies’ flowing therefrom is too attractive to ignore.”
Meanwhile, a civil society organisations (CSO) under the umbrella of The Natives has commended the Department of State Services (DSS) over the recent intervention to end artificial scarcity of fuel by the marketers across the country.
The State Security Service had given the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and oil marketers a 48-hour ultimatum to make petrol available for Nigerians, while threatening to activate its operations across the country if they failed.
But a statement yesterday by the President General of the group, Smart Edwards, explained that the intervention was a success, adding that the secret police must be commended for rising up to the challenge in defence of ordinary citizens to resist calculated plot to unleash untold hardship on Nigerians.
The group said the DSS intervention drastically reduced the hardship motorists were going through as a result of long queues in filling stations.
It stressed that it has now become a norm that as every festive season approaches, national saboteurs would embark on their evil ride to create artificial scarcity and ensue hardship on citizens to satisfy their profiteering.
It added that last month, the ex-militant Government Tompolo’s made a grand exposure of the conspiracy in and around Nigeria’s crude oil by IOCs, powerful forces and locals, adding that the revelation also exposed collaboration by security agencies.
The group noted that in the same vein, the General Chief Executive Officer of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, had alleged that his life was under threat, saying this no doubt revealed that there were hidden powerful cartel behind this plundering of the nation’s wealth who are economically profiting from national sabotage.
It stated: “The Natives commend the Department of State Services for their prompt decision to intervene in the organised sabotage of the well-being and peace of Nigerians as the yuletide season approaches.
“We commend the Director General of the State Department and his team for being proactive and responsive to the yearnings of Nigerians, indeed there seems to be a ray of hope, when the intelligence community rises to defend its citizens.
“We are glad to hear and see the DSS as not only restraining or curtailing threats but rising up to enforce sanity and order.”