A Democracy inclined Civil Society Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] has tasked President Goodluck Jonathan to activate effective mechanisms for tackling the unprecedented rise in corrupt practices among high profile Government officials and to put to an end the vicious cycle of terror-related violence in Northern Nigeria and violent crimes of kidnappings and crude oil thefts in the South as these vices are threatening the continuous corporate existence of Nigeria because if the twin social evils of corruption and Insecurity are not tackled successfully then Nigeria will in the coming months slide into total state of anarchy, chaos and implosion.
President Jonathan has also been asked not to proceed with the proposed removal of subsidy from petroleum products sold to millions of impoverished Nigerians because the removal of fuel subsidy and the review upward of the pump prices of petroleum products would spark off unrelenting regime of social mass unrests and organized civil disobedience by Nigerians from across the country irrespective of ethnic, religious or social class or status. President Jonathan has been therefore been told not to remove the fuel subsidy as that would result in his impeachment by Nigerians on the streets and consequently by the National Assembly otherwise full scale mass revolts would set in if the National Assembly fail to unseat the President should he proceed to remove the subsidy on petroleum products sold to poor and highly impoverisd Nigerians.
In a statement made available to newsmen and jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media Affairs, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] faulted the statement credited to President Jonathan that removal of fuel subsidy could attract foreign investors but challenged the current Government to first tackle the monumental corruption and total lack of accountability and transparency in the running of the nation’s crude oil and/or Petroleum Sector as these are the discouraging factors that keep away foreign investors and not fuel subsidy which is a constitutionally guaranteed social welfare scheme that Government is obliged to promote and implement to save a majority of the citizenry from absolute poverty and the erosion of their human dignity in compliance with section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as amended]. HURIWA also stated that the removal of fuel subsidy would amount to total breach of sections 16 and 17 of the 1999 Constitution which are the basic economic and social objectives of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of Nigerian State policy embodied in the Constitution of Nigeria and also in the Oath of office sworn to by President Jonathan at the inception of office.
According to HURIWA, the Federal Government needs to more meaningfully tackle corruption in the extractive industry and particularly in the administration of the Petroleum industry by effectively prosecuting those already indicted and arrested by the law enforcement agencies for the theft of hundreds of billions tax payers money as claims for subsidy payments for petroleum products they never supplied. The Federal Government should also recover the huge revenue that disappeared from the petroleum sector in the last few years as uncovered by the Special Presidential Task Force headed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu which recently presented its report to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Government, HURIWA stated, should institutionalize corruption free mechanism for the administration of petroleum subsidy and must not contemplate the wholesale removal of the petroleum subsidy because of the adverse consequences to the lives and wellbeing of millions of Nigerians who are undergoing terrible regime of poverty and high cost of living in the different parts of the country. “It is illogical for Government of President Jonathan to seek to remove subsidy on petroleum products on the pretext and nebulous ground that foreign investors would be attracted when infact the citizens of some of the most advanced societies in the World like the United Kingdom, United States of America and even China enjoy some forms of subsidy payments in the Petroleum, Agricultural sectors including other comprehensive and workable social welfare schemes that are paid to their citizens including the jobless, the aged and the homeless.
HURIWA stated thus; “We oppose any plan by this current Government in Abuja to remove subsidy from petroleum products and therefore increase the pump price of petroleum products. This draconian measure if adopted by this Government will terminate the social contract that this Government has with Nigerians since fuel subsidy is the only social welfare scheme that is operational. The Federal Government should recover the huge amounts of public funds siphoned and stolen from the treasury by some Government officials and paid to criminal petroleum cartel members in the guise of payment of subsidy claims because there are now abundance of evidence to show that petroleum subsidy is not the cause of the high rate of corruption in Government but rather the corrupt and criminal manipulation and misapplication of the petroleum subsidy fund by top Government officials in the relevant Federal ministries and agencies of the Federal Government is the reason for the slow growth of the petroleum sector. Government must seal up these leakages, rebuild the refineries to function optimally, stop importation of finished petroleum products and properly administer petroleum subsidy to ensure that the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the millions of impoverished Nigerians are promoted and actualized. Removal of subsidy from petroleum products would automatically lead to mass revolts of unprecedented dimension and may lead to the eventual impeachment on the streets of Nigeria of President Jonathan and his bunch of bad advisers.”