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Energy Security: Falana urges government to tackle self-enriching oil cabal, not subsidy removal

*Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria says he is totally against subsidy removal, arguing there is no country in the world that has not subsidised the poor in society

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Mr. Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has urged the Federal Government to not  remove petrol subsidy by June 2023, but rather deal with the oil thieves.

Falana stated while featuring on a Channels TV programme Friday, December 9, 2022, against the backdrop of the lingering fuel scarcity and its attendant soicio-economic effects on consumers in several major cities in the West African country.

The Lagos-based rights lawyer also decried Nigeria’s inability to meet its oil production quota of 1.8million barrels per day due to crude oil theft and pipeline vandals.

It is as illogical that the government wants to end fuel subsidy payments because of smugglers, stated he.

According to him, the subsidy policy cum oil theft regime will “create more poverty” in the country.

Falana further declared: “I can never (support total subsidy removal). You know why?

“I am saying Section 14 of the constitution – it’s not my own making – provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.

“So, the government has to take care of the welfare of the people and ensure that in providing subsidy for the needy, you do not enrich criminals as it is going on now.”

He noted: “And that is why you have a government in place, to deal with those who are committing crimes – economic crimes and other types of crimes. And that is what is going on in our country.”

Describing himself as “totally against subsidy removal,” Falana said there was no basis for it, arguing that there was no country in the world that did not subsidise the poor in society.

The legal icon further highlighted the alleged corruption by known criminals at the point of oil extraction as well as during the importation of the refined product in Nigeria.

He said: “The duty of the government is to combat theft from the root.

“And we are telling the government, just like they are doing now, they’ve gone to hire a private organisation and the revelations are simply amazing.”

Falana’s take on fuel subsidy debate, oil theft

As regards practical solutions to the fuel subsidy debate, Falana said the National Assembly (NASS) had failed in its oversight responsibilities, despite the lawmakers frequently conducting what he described as all manner of investigations on fuel supply and fuel subsidy, among others.

He stated: “At the end of the day, when the budget is presented, details are not given.”

“You are simply told, ‘This is a supplementary budget increasing fuel subsidy from N443 billion to N4 trillion (for instance).

“What are the details? Daily, how much fuel do we consume? The Comptroller General of Customs has said, ‘Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) is lying by saying it is 68 million (litres per day we consume).’ ”

The prominent human right lawyer as well noted: “At a stage, NNPC said it was 102 million litres per day, whereas the Department of Petroleum Resources said it was 32.8 million litres.

“Which of these figures are we dealing with?”

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