FG woos Nigerians abroad for fuel subsidy removal

Fasehun decries policy 

DETERMINED to win the support of the citizens for the proposed fuel subsidy removal, the presidency has extended its campaign to Nigerians abroad, especially the professionals, opinion leaders and other influential individuals.

But the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun has flayed the planned removal of the subsidy, saying it will worsen the already poor socio-economic situation in the country.

Soon after the Christmas holidays, several Nigerian groups and individuals based in the Diaspora received an email version of the Federal Government power point presentation authored by Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and widely reported to have been the basis of its decision to finally remove the subsidy allocation in the budget.

The email version which was sent out on Tuesday morning by a Senior Special Assistant in the Presidency, Dr. Baba Adamu, was received by several groups, including Nigerians in Diaspora (NIDO), U.S. Pronaco, Committee of Ogoni Professionals Abroad and Afro-Canada News.

Leaders of Nigerian-Diaspora groups that received the power point presentation email from Adamu included Dr. Ola Kassim, a founding leader of NIDO and Dr. Issa Odidi, a prominent Canada-based businessman.

In the email titled Facts about Oil Subsidy and Oil Subsidy PPT Presentation by Finance Minister, dated December 6, 2011, it was stated, for instance, that by next year, “the landing cost of a litre of PMS is estimated at N104/litre based on a crude oil price of US$90pb. To this, add the cost of distribution, bridging and profit margins of N15.72/litre, this results in effective cost of N120/litre.”

Arguing that the present level of subsidy in Nigeria is not sustainable (already over N1.3 trillion this year alone), it does not also reach the intended beneficiaries and benefits mostly the rich. The Okonjo-Iweala power point presentation concluded that when compared to other oil producing countries, Nigeria is actually deemed a poor country.

But responding to the presentation, one of the recipients said “the Power Point presentation is short of the effects of the policy on Nigeria.”

According to him, the proposed palliative to manage the impact of the oil subsidy removal “is not good enough. Besides, we know the so-called savings on the subsidy removal will just end-up in the pocket of some governors which the Federal Government has little or no control of.  The FGN cannot do anything to ones who have already looted the treasury, many of whom, after looting billions of Naira, are still walking free.”

On the over N1.3 trillion already spent on subsidy this year, and possible N1.43 trillion by year-end, he wondered “how did we get to N1.43 trillion when overall NASS allocated /approved fund in the 2011 budget was N240 billion? Our refineries could have been made operational in full capacity and we should be exporting refined petroleum products. If the FGN must act on the fuel subsidy mess, why not start with the cabals who are benefiting from this mess?”

Speaking with journalists in Lagos during a breakfast meeting yesterday, Fasehun said it was unfortunate that rather than exist for the common good of the majority of the people, those in authorities feed fat on the people they are supposedly representing.

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By From Laolu Akande (New York) and Kamal Tayo Oropo (Lagos) 

Source: The Guardian

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