The fuel subsidy issue is a matter that affects all segments of the Nigerian society, the youths especially. In this report,
John Oba records his interactions with some youth leaders, who, embarrassed by the level of theft, are demanding for an apology from the government while calling for the prosecution of those involved.
The House of Representatives’ probe report has revealed what most Nigerians have suspected all along: the mismanagement and theft by top Nigerian officials involved in the fuel subsidy scheme. From records, the country put in well over $6.8 billion (N1.07 trillion) in three years even as Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) indebtedness to oil trading companies is put at $3.5 billion. The exposure is eliciting calls for the overhaul of NNPC and even the ministry itself by youths who are finding difficult to reconcile government’s inability to provide jobs for its teeming unemployed youth and the ongoing wastage of resources by a few.
One of the Youth leaders, President/Executive Director of African Youths International Development Foundation (AFYIDEF), Dr. Tunji Asaolu in his reaction said “Nigerians and youths in particular, deserve unreserved apologies for the mess that is going on. A confirmed N294, 914billion was paid for 3,171,644,336 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) that might not have been supplied according to the report of the House of Representatives committee on subsidy. The money is more than what was needed to provide jobs for millions of youths in this country.
“No one conjectured the interruption of the youth rally against the removal of fuel subsidy. The National Youth Council of Nigeria and African Youths International Development Foundation saw the action as a fraudulent creation designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. It was an avenue to mortgage the future of Nigerian youths.
“Nigeria as a top 10 oil producer in the world cannot provide jobs for its citizenry, this is worrisome. Even worse, Nigeria has no business importing fuel in the first instance but for the corruption incorporated into the system that has made local production of fuel impossible or unattractive.
Nigerians are determined to resist this ill-advised anti-people policy as the government seems also determined to increase fuel price in the guise of fuel subsidy removal. The youth are lamenting.”
Asaolu continued: “However, Okonjo- Iweala , Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should apologise to Nigerians for misleading the youth. They were all preaching sermon of economic collapse if subsidy was not withdrawn. I suggest they go and organise another town hall meeting and apologise for misleading the public. I recall Professor Tam David West. Femi Falana and Olisa Agbakoba insisting there was nothing like subsidy. I hope ther won’t be any black market injunction restraining anybody from implementing the report.”
The National Youth Council President, Comrade Olawale James Ajani, in his reactions to the report called on the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to move in immediately and prosecute all those involved.
Ajani said: “It is unfortunate that the system is decayed and the report is another confirmation that the fuel subsidy thing was a scam. The report should be made public and the recommendation therein should be implemented accordingly. The government needs to be more sincere in dealing with issues as average Nigerians are suffering. EFCC should act like a lion and not a toothless bulldog as all found wanting must be brought to book to forestall further occurrence. As part of the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, he should immediately sack all indicted top government officials perpetuating all the frauds and discrediting his government.
“Nigerian youths are the most affected by this scam because the money that was supposed to be used for infrastructural development was stolen by few individuals. The Nigerian youth commend the adhoc committee of the House of Representatives for a job well done. We will not be tired until the report is fully looked into.
Mr. President has done well by exposing the fraud in the oil sector, if he did not announce the removal of fuel subsidy on January 1 this year, the truth would not have been out. The Nigerian youth also commend his courage and hope that the spirit continues.”
On his part, the speaker, Nigeria Youth Parliament, Hon Abdullahi H. MaiBasira called for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which he insisted would further strengthen the deregulation policy of government just as he called for the prosecution of offenders.
He said that the need to make our entire petroleum industry more efficient, accountable and transparent should be central to the impending oil reforms in Nigeria. This, according to him, will create professionalism, reduce corrupt tendencies and bring about competition.
“The findings of this report, which showcased serial abuse of responsibility, sheer incompetence and unimaginable levels of unpatriotic disposition of people in position, exposed fraud and corruption is yet another sad episode in our national life. As a youth Parliamentarian, I salute the Hon. Farouk Lawan committee not only for exposing this monumental mismanagement but also in the recommendations which demanded the immediate passing of Petroleum Industry Bill and the need to fearlessly fight corruption for Nigeria to move forward.
“Before we get to government, we should await the final outcome of the deliberation on the report during the plenary session of the House next Tuesday. After which, we hope that government would review the positions and recommendations in the report. Without prejudice, however, I expect the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill which will further strengthen the deregulation policy of government.
“We as youths are negatively affected by all these chains of fraud. This has to stop. Imagine today, a former elected Governor of a State in Nigeria sent to serve jail in the UK for corruption. As a youth, I feel it is rather unbecoming and unfortunate. Anyone holding public office should see themselves as our role model and builders of the nation and those saddled by privilege to protect the future of Nigeria. We cannot continue this way as a nation, if we are to be truly great and prosperous. We have got to secure our future by prudently managing our resources, conforming to laid down processes and procedures in public life and by preparing the youths for central responsibility.
On its part, the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) in its reaction also called for the prosecution of those indicted while expressing fear that the report might be swept under the carpet as usual.
In a statement signed by its national president, Comrade Dauda Mohammed, the student body said: “Our fear is rising from our previous experience as a nation particularly as we can never be quick to remind ourselves of the drama that eventually covered up the Power sector probe in Nigeria which was then championed by the same House of Representatives.
The enormity of the revelations and national losses as revealed during the probe has therefore necessitated our clarion call that this should not be turned into another repeat of the power probe report but should rather be used as an opportunity for us to address the various questions that has been raised as a result of the mismanagement of the subsidy regime,” the statement read in part.
It also assured that it would continue to monitor the events as they unfold even as it restated its belief in the integrity of the present leadership of the House of Reps believing that justice will be done on issues.
Another youth leader, Mr Ayo Thomas, advised the president to be courageous enough to implement the recommendation of the Farouk committee.
“He must therefore sit tight and build a new courage to ensure that the recommendation of the Farouk investigation committee is given quick attention and it is incumbent on him to use this subsidy report to convince Nigerians that he is both willing and able as anything short of this will clearly reveal that that he lacks the political will and capacity to govern.”