The Removal of Oil Subsidy and Governance: The Position of Abuja Writers' Forum (AWF)
The Abuja Writers' Forum, AWF, has watched with keen interest the fallout of the removal of oil subsidy carried out by the Federal Government on January 1, 2012 through the announcement by the PPPRA.
It is evident that no matter how good intentioned the decision, it has been fraught with underhand tactics that indicate a pre-determined course of action .
This view has been accentuated by the President's broadcast on January 7, 2012 which again failed to give any convincing reason for the removal of the oil subsidy, and virtually slashed the slender lifeline of trust that remained between the leadership and the followership. What seems to be the order of the day is a carefully orchestrated governance by deception, but punctuated by comical contradictions even from the officials.
The Government is so insensitive to the hardship Nigerians already have to bear, that it went ahead with its intention without providing the necessary safety nets that should cushion the devasting effects which have manifested instantly.
We note that this removal comes at a time everyone recognizes that oil subsidy is not the main problem with the nation's economy or the petroleum sector, but unbridled greed and corruption which the current administration has shown no willingness to combat. A situation compounded by the President's deliberate refusal to declare his assets, thus depriving himself of a firm moral high ground to battle corruption.
As writers, and a segment of the Nigerian populace that has contributed immensely to the goodwill and good image the country enjoys around the world, we wish to condemn this act that has added to the excruciating plight of Nigerians.
We strongly believe that instead of removing the subsidy , Government should have courageously confronted corruption which is widely seen to have led to the bloated amount that it claims it expended on subsidy in 201.
We therefore call on Government to reverse this great error and the inhuman treatment of Nigerians.
We also congratulate the House of Representatives for seeing that this is the wish of the people. Senate should take a cue and break its appalling silence that is tantamount to a calculated conspiracy against the citizenry. Faith leaders and traditional rulers should know that this is not the time to turn a blind eye to the suffering visited on their followers.
However the present situation is no longer a matter of oil subsidy, and has provided a golden opportunity for Nigerians to sanitise governance and ensure a harmattan of social justice in all its ramifications so that we can kick-start the emergence of a great Nigeria. There should be investigation into activities of NNPC,PPPRA and other agencies involved in procurement and distribution of petroleum products with appropriate punishment for whoever is responsible for the shady practices. Those responsible for siphoning the subsidy money should be made to refund every kobo.
We also call on security agencies to forthwith cease the killing of Nigerians who exercise their right to peaceful protest against this unjustifiable treatment from their elected government. These security agencies should know that they are liable to prosecution for any crimes committed against innocent Nigerians in every available court of redress including the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
We also call on Government to seriously address the continuous and escalating killings by the Boko Haram sect and bring the perpetrators to book .
Emman Usman Shehu (PhD)