BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos –
Civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take what it termed, “Bold action” in tackling the persistent fuel scarcity in the country.
SERAP specifically asked the president to urgently propose a bill to the National Assembly that would explicitly recognize access of Nigerians to regular fuel supply as a human right, with specific responsibilities on the authorities to proactively prevent and combat the problem and the associated human rights violations.
The organisation, which made this call in a statement issued by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, said, “That millions of Nigerians are suffering due to fuel scarcity is a moral outrage.
“Preventing and ending the problem of fuel scarcity is not only a moral duty for this government but also a legal and human right obligation.
“Access to regular fuel supply is logically derived from the people’s right to their natural wealth and resources.
“Oil shouldn’t be a ‘curse’ for Nigerians; being endowed with natural resources ought to be a synonym for wealth and development, and not extreme poverty and suffering.
“The recognition of the right to regular fuel supply would be a building block to initiate the chain of decisions necessary to prevent the dire effects of persistent scarcity.
“Given the persistent problem of fuel scarcity in the country, the appropriate course of action is to explicitly establish a human right to regular fuel supply and to criminalise hoarding of fuel by marketers.
“Recognition of the right to regular fuel supply is the best opportunity to thwart scarcity and its effects, and improve access for large portions of the country’s population.
“The issues involved in fuel scarcity stem largely from the lack of recognition as a human right. Fuel is required for a range of different purposes to realize many human rights.
“In the short-term, Buhari must move swiftly to end the fuel scarcity, and end fuel price jumps by marketers, if his government is to reverse the growing unemployment and hunger for tens of millions of poor and disadvantaged Nigerians.’’
“Persistent fuel scarcity is contributing to the deprivation of Nigerians’ right to secure a livelihood, which in turn is seriously encroaching upon the quality of life they enjoy.
“SERAP believes that the constitutional right to life must at least ensure access to these basic survival amenities if it is to have any significance for a large percentage of our population.
“This constitutes an encompassing view of humanity.
“While the recognition of the right to regular fuel supply may not allay current suffering, it would place the issue of scarcity and human need at the forefront of national discourse.
“If recognized and implemented, an official statement of the right to regular fuel supply would force the government to be more proactive in
preventing fuel scarcity, and making the necessary policy changes to
ensure that access would not be disrupted in the future.
“Government would be held accountable for its action and would be
responsible for adapting its policies to include the goals of
repairing and maintaining our refineries and citizens’ access.
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