Civil society organizations have called for the immediate dismissal of the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, for promoting economic reforms that can bring death to Nigerians.
They described the subsidy as the greatest fraud in the history of the country, were monumental amounts are criminally paid to government cronies who return the money to their political god fathers, and has nothing to do with the current increase in fuel prices.
The civil society groups at a press briefing in Abuja today pointed to the pledge the Nigerian government made to Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that 445000 barrels of crude oil will be refined daily for local consumption as evidence that there is no subsidy on fuel in Nigeria.
They also commended protesters in Kano, Lagos, Lokoja and Illorin for their courage in taking on the government, demanding an immediate revert of fuel prices to N65 naira per liter.
They further noted that protesters exercising their constitutional right to oppose government policy have so far been conducting themselves peacefully, only for government to mete out violence on them with the use of security agents who beat, tear gas and have even allegedly killing one protester in Ilorin.
Dr Jibrin Ibrahim of the Center for Democratic Research (CDR) who led in the presentation of a ‘Citizen Charter of Demands’ put together by the civil society groups who have pledged their support and willingness to collaborate with Nigerians in continuation of protests until government reverses its decision.
Dr Ibrahim described the claim by the federal government after its executive council meeting Wednesday, that it is expecting about 1,000 diesel powered buses to reduce the burden on Nigerians in the transportation sector as a blatant lie.
He explained that, the Trade Union of Nigeria (TUC) had obtained a loan from the World Bank for some buses and is expecting delivery soon, and if the government is saying these are the buses they want to deliver to Nigerians, then it is dishonest.
He also questioned the legitimacy of fuel subsidy removal without the permission of the National Assembly, “it is clear the president is in contempt of the National Assembly and has acted outside the purview of his powers. The removal of the so-called subsidy requires legislation by the National Assembly. The establishment of a mechanism to manage the ‘huge gains’ from the ‘removal of subsidy’ also requires legislation.
On the part of Labour, the acting secretary general of the Nigerian Labour Union (NLC) Owei Lakemfa who was also present declared that the NLC is not going to negotiate with government on the issue of fuel subsidy removal again.
He said Labour and civil society were totally behind the action of many Nigerians who are presently protesting in some states and would join the protest on Monday 9th January, and would not back down until government changes its mind.
The civil society groups represented include; the United Action for Democracy, Advocates for Change and Social Justice, Action Aid Nigeria and Center for Democracy and Development, among others.