Subsidy removal is an affront on Nigerians – Sen Adetunmbi

*It’s a bitter pill, says Anglican Cleric

Inalegwu Shaibu

04 January 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA—Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (ACN, Ekiti North) has described the sudden removal of fuel subsidy by President Goodluck Jonathan without input from the National Assembly as an affront on Nigerians.

Senator Adetunmbi, in statement, said the action of the President rubbishes the integrity and the constitutional rights of the legislature.

In his own reaction, the Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese in Imo State, Prof Emmanuel Iheagwam, said, Tuesday, that the removal of fuel subsidy was a bitter pill Nigerians must swallow for a better tomorrow.

The statement by Senator Adetunmbi read in part: “This Senate has been sidelined in this decision and its collective mandate as the representatives of the people thoroughly rubbished.

“The constitutional roles of the legislature is gradually being eroded by a President that has the temerity to spend over N800 billion on subsidy outside the appropriation act during the yet to end 2011 budget.

“The NASS and the people have asked questions and request for explanations for this constitutional infraction to which the President is yet to provide any answers.”

“The President acted peremptorily and makes nonsense of efforts of the Senate to get to the bottom of the perennial fraud of subsidy management which the Senate committee on petroleum is trying to unearth.

“The exclusion of the National Assembly from this far-reaching economic decision when the 2012 budget is still under consideration represents poor political judgment on the part of the President and his Advisers. This unilateral decision runs against the grains of inclusive and representative democracy.”

He stressed that the sudden removal of subsidy, contrary to an earlier affirmations from the President and the Minister of Finance that the policy was undergoing review, was an indication of government acting in dishonour.

According to him, “In a manner totally lacking in honour and integrity that is expected of an elected government, the Federal Government sprung a New Year’s Day surprise on a nation already reeling under the brutal onslaught of Boko Haram and a worsening human development indices”.

He urged the Senate to disregard the invitation to be part of the Christopher Kolade-led board which is set to oversee the reinvestment of the subsidy windfall, having being left out in the beginning.

“The National Assembly to provide two representatives to serve on the Governing Board of Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE) is the tokenistic, patronising and a subtle attempt to drag the legislature into unpopular executive decisions. It will undermine the independence of the Senate and erode the potency of its oversight functions.”

From Owerri, Chidi Nkwopara reports that the Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese, Prof Emmanuel Iheagwam, says the removal of fuel subsidy was a bitter pill Nigerians must swallow for a better tomorrow.

It was the considered opinion of Bishop Iheagwam that the issue was very sensitive, adding that impoverished Nigerians don’t seem prepared to take any further battering..

“Nigerians are already impoverished and don’t seem prepared for any further battering through the removal of fuel subsidy, more so when nothing was done with the money that accrued from the earlier graduated fuel subsidy removal,” the Anglican cleric said.

Iheagwam described Nigerians as “very resilient people”, adding that what the citizenry wanted from the Presidency was firm assurance that monies saved from the withdrawal would be judiciously applied.

On the planned confrontation of the Federal Government by the organised labour and civil society groups, the Bishop pleaded: “Let us not visit the sins of the previous administrations on the present one.”

Transport fare has since jumped through the roof, while a number of the filling station that shut their doors to customers during the Christmas and New Year festivities, have resumed sales.

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