Human rights lawyer and activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has declared that the new fuel price regime from the Federal Government is illegal and lacks statutory power because the body, empowers to take such decision is yet to be constituted by the government.
According to him, the decision by the government was “immoral and insensitivity of the effect of fuel price increase on the people of Nigeria.”
He therefore urged the government to revert to the old pump price.
In a statement made available to Vanguard in Lagos, Falana argued that the increment was contrary to the interest and yearning of Nigerians for the further reduction of the fuel price.
He noted that the present administration acted contrary to its promises not to remove subsidy in order to inflict undue pains on Nigerians.
Beside, he said, the decision was wrong since the sole body statutorily responsible for fixing fuel price is not yet constituted, adding, the “unilateral decision of the Executive Secretary of the body to fix the pump price at N145 per litre is ultra vires and illegal in every material particular.”
He argued that since the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) empowered to recommend the price of petroleum products has not been reconstituted, such decision was wrong.
He added that: “In view of the illegality, insensitivity and immorality of the price increase the federal government should cancel it, revert to the status quo and consult widely with all relevant stakeholders in the society.”
Falana wondered why the increment when after the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) recently invited fresh bids for the setting up modular refineries, which resulted to licensing of 22 modular refineries “with combined capacities to refine 1.429 million barrels of crude oil per day. If the policy is genuinely pursued the construction of the refineries ought to be completed within the 9-12 months.
“If such refineries are established in the country the importation of fuel and the fraud associated with it will stop. In the interim, instead of importing oil from Europe and the United States the NNPC should refine crude oil for domestic consumption in neighbouring countries which have functional refineries. After all, Nigeria refines 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day in Cote d’ivoire which is not an oil producing nation.” He said.
He further argued that “If subsidy had been removed over a month ago and the country has been saving $2 billion (from fuel importation and subsidy removal) while the refineries are now working at full capacity Dr. Kachukwu should tell Nigerians the justification for the new removal of fuel subsidy announced by him yesterday.
“The cost elements that make up the N145 are provocative. If the total landing cost of a litre and other charges are fixed at N138 what is the basis of fixing the price at N145? For goodness sake, why should motorists be made to pay NPA/NIMASA charges, within and without storage/ bridging charges etc?”
He therefore submitted that the decision will have virile effect on the people and the economic.
He noted that increasing the price without any public debate or consultation with relevant stakeholders whatsoever the federal government took the Nigerian people by surprise.
For Tinubu, the national.APC leader, it was a different take. Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed his immense support for President Buhari’s decision to remove the fuel subsidy.
In a statement released on Thursday in Lagos, Jagaban said that the Buhari administration made a prudent decision in the removal of the fuel subsidy. The statement read;
“We all want fuel at a cheaper price. under the subsidy, we got the right price but not the fuel. Meanwhile, some were getting rich on the common man’s predicament. They were laughing to the bank while the rest of Nigeria waited in the petrol line. This is not the way to democratic development. It is a recipe for creating a class of economic predators that would feed off the people and in time gain such power and wealth that they would seek to buy and control if not own government as well.
President Buhari has with this decision put an abrupt and just end to this assault against our economy and political system. He has made a courageous and prudent decision. It is time to end the fuel subsidy and to begin to subsidize the true needs of the people.
To Mr. President, I say congratulations for having the courage to remove the subsidy. The President has taken this tough decision in the interest of the present and future generations of Nigerians.
For some time, I have been a proponent of this action. I believed ending of subsidy was the only sure way to put to sleep the myriad demons that had invaded the subsidy process, sucking the blood of Nigeria, swallowing much of our needed money.
The rentiers will no longer be able to make free money at our common expense. They will no longer be laughing to the bank while you languish in endless fuel queues. Nigeria has taken the historic step needed to create a competitive environment that that will eliminate smuggling, provide incentives for private refineries and attract foreign investments in the downstream sector and create employment.
Instead of just shipping off the oil and having the more expensive finished products sent back to us, Nigeria will move closer to realizing its potential to become the plastic center of the continent by manufacturing these by products. Nothing can stop Nigeria from being the net exporter of fertilizer from the bye products of the oil industry.”
On his Senator Dino Melaiye disagreed with the removal totally. He took to his Facebook page to express this. The self-acclaimed pro-corruption anti-corruption activist, Senator Dino Melayo who represents Kogi West in the Senate has threatened to lead the mother of all protests against the FG if after 7days from Monday 16th of May, they fail to reverse the announced increase in pump price of PMS!!
My sincere advise is for the National Chairman of party to our party to suggest that the federal government immediately reverse the announced increase in the pump price of PMS. If after 7days from Monday there is no reversal, I will mobilize Nigerians from all walks of life for the mother of all protest. This is not what we promised Nigerians. The time is not right and the negative effects will be unbearable. A word is enough for the wise.