By Babajide Okeowo
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations and other critical stakeholders, have insisted on the removal of petroleum subsidy.
The group made this known in a communique issued at the end of a one-day national town hall meeting in Abuja on Monday.
The communique was signed by its National Chairman, Mr Isah Abubakar, Secretary, Mr Joe Moses and Vice Chairman, South West, Mr Adewale Oludele, as well as Vice Chairman, South East, Mr Uche Ifeanyi.
The group, which blamed subsidy regime as partly responsible for the country’s economic hardship, added that it lacked transparency and accountability.
It noted that subsidy removal would go a long way in saving the Federal Government about N250 billion spent on a monthly basis as petroleum subsidy.
It urged the federal government to expedite action on the planned removal of the subsidy regime, stressing that it would facilitate the implementation of the 2022 national budget of N17.13 trillion.
“The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations and professionals drawn from various parts of the country met on Sunday, 9th January, 2022, for a National Town Hall Meeting on Removal of Petroleum Subsidy.
“It was observed that the petroleum subsidy regime which has existed for decades has been without transparency, credibility and accountability.
“It further observed that the monthly payment of over N250 billion has done serious damage to the economy.
“The financial burden has retarded the growth and development of the country and if the trend is not reversed, it would continue to degenerate the nation’s revenue until the economy would have been irrevocably damaged,” it stated.
The CSOs further blamed subsidy for the increasing rate of fuel smuggling across borders to places like Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“The situation will abate to a large extent, if the subsidy regime is abolished and will also strengthen availability of fuel in the downstream sector of the economy.”
The group commended the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) Limited for construction of 28 federal roads across the federation.
It urged the NNPC to, as a matter of policy, continue to put funds into reconstruction and rehabilitation of category ‘A’ roads so as to enhance economic development of the country.
It called on the federal government to continue to ensure maintenance and rehabilitation of the government refineries to meet with local fuel consumption, while calling for reactivation and upgrade of Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries.
On the planned palliative to citizens in the circumstance that the fuel subsidy regime is fully scrapped, the group said it was a noble idea, saying it would mitigate hardship occasioned by the removal of subsidy.