Pro-subsidy removal rally holds in Abuja

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

21 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – A massive rally was held on Wednesday across the city of Abuja to garner support for the Federal government’s planned removal of fuel subsidy.

The rally, which was organized by some groups under the aegis of the Friends of National Transformation Agenda (FRONTA), took to major streets across the Federal Capital city with adequate police escorts in tow, holding up traffic across the city.

The action by the group pre-empts the planned protests by the Nigeria Labour Congress and its affiliates, who have staunchly opposed the subsidy removal, declaring that they would bring the economy to a halt if government goes ahead with the plan.

FRONTA’s spokesman, Mr. Victor Chibudom, said that the action by the group was necessary in order to prove to Nigerians that not every Nigerian disapproves of the plan.

He observed that the current subsidy regime in which fixed prizce is maintained irrespective of market realities has resulted in a huge unsustainable subsidy burden, adding that the subsidy administration is beset with inefficiencies, leakages and corruption.

“In fact, if the truth be told, many right thinking and self-respecting Nigerians know that removing the subsidy will the best thing for our economy, because it will free up needed resources for the development of our country.

“The only worry people have is whether the resources would be judiciously managed given the experience with past governments, and we tell them that this government has promised to set up structures that will ensure accountability and transparency in the application of the subsidy yields. We need to give government the benefit of the doubt,” Chibudom asserted.

According to him, opposition to the subsidy removal was unjustified and the handiwork of “an irresponsible and greedy few have benefitted from the status quo at the expense of millions of our country men, women and children.”

He noted that, “Oil subsidy is a big stone holding down Nigeria’s glory and progress. Millions of Nigerians are in the poverty and the economy is not improving because of activities of a few individuals, who are diligently mobilizing against the removal of the subsidy, which has only benefitted them and their cronies. As a nation we must join hands to touch the untouchable by removing the subsidy.”

Chibudom stressed that removal of subsidy “means saving funds to improve agriculture, build roads and railways, and hospitals. Funds that are used to oil the corrupt wheels of subsidy can go into improving our education, building of refineries, job creation and other business opportunities, and generally improving the welfare of ordinary Nigerians.”

The FRONTA leader further noted that subsidy has resulted in the diversion of scarce public resources away from investment in critical infrastructure, while putting pressure on limited government resources.

According to him, “Every year, government spends billions to service fuel a subsidy regime, which does not reach the intended beneficiaries. Subsidy level is directly correlated to with household income, as richer households consume larger quantities of petroleum products. Consequently, the subsidy benefits the rich mostly.”

He added that, “Nigerians should even be grateful to President Goodluck Jonathan for his decision to remove the fuel subsidy because past leaders are also part of the cartel has been holding Nigeria hostage over the decades.

“The President could have gone ahead to reap from the faulty system, like the others, but he has chosen to do the right thing by all Nigerians, for the future of the nation.”

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