Fayemi, Aregbesola, others decry policy
AMID the raging controversy over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, the House of Representatives said yesterday that it had not taken any position on the issue.
This, however, contradicted its earlier position that the removal of subsidy was premature.
In a statement by its Committee on Media and Public Affairs yesterday in Abuja, the House said it was yet to take any position on the matter.
But the lower chamber had on December 1, 2011, debated and rejected the proposal by President Goodluck Jonathan to drop subsidy on petroleum products.
The latest position of the House, which was signed by the Deputy Chairman of its Media Committee, Victor Ogene, reads: “The House of Representatives notes the decision of the Executive regarding the total removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the subsequent reaction of cross section of Nigerians to the decision.
It is worth repeating here that the House of Representatives has not taken any definite decision on the subsidy matter before it proceeded on recess on December 20, 2011.
“However, the House of Representatives would immediately upon resumption on Tuesday, January 10, 2012, commence exhaustive deliberation and consultation with other stakeholders on the issue, and wishes to assure all Nigerians that as the elected representatives of the people, the outcome will be reflective of the views of majority of members.”
Adopting the recommendations of its joint committees on Finance, Appropriations, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development, which reviewed the 2012 to 2015 Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF), the House described the removal of subsidy as premature and urged that the idea be dropped by the Presidency.
The House said: “The proposal on fuel subsidy removal, as contained in the revised Fiscal Strategy paper, is premature. Sources other than relying on savings from the proposed subsidy removal as part of financing items for expected deficit should be explored.”
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi described the removal of the oil subsidy as the agenda of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and blamed the electorate for voting for President Goodluck Jonathan who was the PDP’s standard-bearer in the last Presidential election.
He said if the electorate had voted for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Nigerians would not have been going through the hardship the policy of the PDP is subjecting them to.
Fayemi spoke while kicking off the campaign for the local council election in the state and the presentation of 16 chairmanship candidates of the ACN and their deputies to party admirers, who converged on the Government House Playing Ground for the mass rally.
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola decried the removal of the subsidy as a cruel and anti-people policy designed by the ruling PDP-led Federal Government without any feeling for the poor.
While speaking at a new year inter-religious service, Aregbesola who also harped on the need for religious tolerance among people of different faiths, absolved his government and party of any involvement in the withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
On his part, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, representing Kogi Central Senatorial District on the platform of PDP, has lamented the hardship the petrol subsidy removal would inflict on Nigerians.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Michael Jegede, the senator decried the hardship Nigerians have been subjected to since the beginning of the new year, as a result of the withdrawal of the subsidy.
Abatemi-Usman, who had recently told the people of his constituency that he was totally against fuel subsidy removal at a town hall meeting in Okene, wondered why the people would be made to start year 2012 on such a painful note.
He called on the Federal Government to have a rethink on its decision, which, according to him, is clearly against the wishes of the masses. The lawmaker maintained that there were other ways the government could go about reforming the economy without having to make the populace go through untold hardship.
Besides, the National Youth Leader of the ACN, Mr. Ebikibina Miriki, has condemned the arrest of a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Malaye, at the Eagle Square in Abuja over his attempt to mobilise for protest against the removal of fuel subsidy.
Miriki told The Guardian in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital that the action of the security personnel to effect any arrest was undemocratic, unconstitutional and an outright breach of the fundamental right of the people to register, ventilate and resist an anti-people policy of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Also, a former minority leader of the House of Representatives, Farouk Adamu Aliyu, has said that the members of the National Assembly can return the petroleum subsidy that was removed by the Federal Government if they live up to their mandates.
Aliyu, who was the Congress for Progressive (CPC) governorship candidate at the 2011 election in Jigawa State, told The Guardian that the President had done his worst by removing the subsidy in his budget proposal.