Government deceived Nigerians on fuel subsidy

Former Petroleum Minister, Prof. Tam David-West, on Wednesday slammed former Military President Ibrahim Babangida for accusing his predecessor, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of corruption, ionigeria.comreports.

David-West, alongside human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, also accused Goodluck Jonathan of deceiving Nigerians to justify his “anti-people” policies.

They were the guest speakers at the 3rd Year Memorial Lecture held in Lagos in honour of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

David-West, who was Minister of Petroleum under   Buhari, alleged Babangida institutionalised corruption in the oil industry.

He said, “If you put IBB and Buhari on a scale of corruption in Nigeria, IBB will fall down.

“IBB cannot challenge Buhari in terms of corruption and management because IBB destroyed the oil industry.”

David-West maintained that there was never subsidy on fuel and that the government was only deceiving Nigerians when it said it was going to remove it.

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The Professor of Virology said the amount spent on fuel subsidy assumed the nature of “amoeba”, changing to about 10 figures as given by different government sources including President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said, “The government itself does not have the figure that has changed 10 times. The so-called subsidy is a fraud rooted in government lies. The government has been lying to justify the removal of subsidy that does not exist.”

He said the sale of petrol at N97 “is a political figure”, adding that based on his calculations Nigerians should be buying it for a maximum of N40.

Falana said payments on subsidy by government  in 2011 were fraud involving officials of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

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He said, “N245bn was budgeted for fuel subsidy  in 2011. By the end of December, the CBN had released 1.7trn. The coordinating minister (Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) released additional N500bn. The implication of that is that about 2.2trn was spent without appropriation.

“Those who looted the treasury and pay money to their friends including the officials of the CBN, the Ministry of Finance and the NNPC, all of them, must be dealt with under the law.”

He also criticised CBN’s proposed introduction of N5,000 note and coinage of N20, N10 and N5, saying the plan is to make it “easy to bribe. It is not about the economy.”

Representative of Jonathan at the event, Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., paid tribute to Gani, describing him as “the people’s lawyer, strong in body and soul.”

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He said, “He was a champion of all champions who fought vigorously for an untrammeled rule of law, aiming for an all-embracing social justice system, and undiluted democracy.

President of the Gani Fawehimi Memorial Organisation, the group which organised the lecture, Mr. Ayodele Akele, called on government to immortalise Fawehinmi by naming the office of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja after him.

Fawehinmi, popularly called Gani, a social critic, human and civil rights lawyer, died on September 5, 2009 at 71 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer.


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