By Haruna Salami
A religious group, Nigeria Christian Forum, (NCF), a coalition of Protestants and Catholic faithful on Monday throw its weight behind fuel subsidy removal, saying it’s one step the federal government must be courageous to take to salvage the nation from total collapse.
The NCF said there are indicators which are strong enough to show that, if the fuel subsidy which guzzles a whooping sum of N250 billion monthly was not removed now, the nation has allowed itself affliction that would continue to have devastating effect on economy, stating that the nation must be wriggled out of the burden at all cost.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Chairman of the Nigeria Christian Forum (NCF), Bishop John Mathew who was flanked by other executives lamented that “fuel subsidy”, was an identified evil that must be tackled headlong without sparing any effort.
The forum said, fuel subsidy regime was a creation of elites’ ‘pipeline’ to swindle the Nigeria economy. The elite, they said, some of who are no more in government, but hibernates and were monitoring developments within the oil downstream sector from the comfort of their hotel rooms to ensure they impose their will on government.
The forum lamented that fuel subsidy was long over-due for complete removal, wondering if they were the cartels that haven’t been conniving with some bad elements within the oil sector to frustrate the turnaround maintenances and rehabilitation of two ailing refineries.
They argued that the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited (NNPL) would be able to meet the target of daily fuel consumption of 56 million litres daily, if the refineries have been reactivated, noting that it would not be possible, if the cartels behind fuel subsidy regime were not dismantled.
The body tasked the NNPL to channel funds recovered from the removal of subsidy to rehabilitation and reactivation of the refineries, which they believed would force down fuel price per litre, if fuel was being produced locally.
The forum said: “For decades, one wonders, why the federal government has failed in the turnaround maintenances of the two refineries, one in Kaduna and another in Port Harcourt.
“If the refineries are working, there would be no need for importation of fuel and it could be optimally produced locally which, of course, means there is no need for fuel subsidy, so we know where our challenges in the oil sector lies.
“As at April 2021, there was a slight decline in the distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to 56 million litres, despite FG’s effort at ensuring continuous increase which the NNPC recorded trading surplus by 24% in that month.”
The forum further called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other private sectors to support the FG’s bid to remove the fuel subsidy.
They urged the organised Labour to shelve their planned protest and toe the path of dialogue, warning that any attempt to protest would be highjacked by hoodlums, particularly that Nigeria is now in the electioneering campaign year.
The Christian group further commended the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari for the reforms that saw the Petroleum Industry Bill passed into law by the National Assembly last year, adding that the act should be implemented to the later.
According to them, the NNPC’s construction and rehabilitation of some roads across the nation was a right step in the right direction, while they called on the NNPC to intervene in other critical sectors for rapid development and growth of the country.