The Vehicle Owners Association of Nigeria (VOAN) has condemned the decision by the federal government to remove the petroleum subsidy, in the face of socio-economic hardship being experienced in the country.
The group also called for immediate reversal of the policy which it described as “obnoxious and anti-people”; even as it enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently summon a stakeholders meeting in other to find lasting solution to the energy crisis instead of resorting to piece-meal approach in solving the problem.
Rising from its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja at the weekend, the group said its members would wait for the response of the federal government and if after 24 hours no positive response, all vehicle owners would shut down Nigeria in the mother of all rallies on Wednesday, May 18.
In a statement jointly signed by its national president, Ambassador Odo Vincent Okoko; secretary, Comrade Makinde Ola Vincent; the publicity secretary, Barr. Tolu Babaleye; among others; VOAN recalled with much concern, the prevalent scarcity of fuel products especially petrol nation-wide which has adversely affected its members across the country, coupled with the contentious electricity tariff increase.
“The new fuel price regime is regrettably unacceptable. It’s obnoxious; it’s anti-people and also ill timed. We call for immediate reversal of the decision even as we enjoin President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently summon a stakeholders meeting in other to find a lasting solution to the energy crisis instead of resorting to piece-meal approach in solving problems”, the statement reads in part.
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“In as much as we have confidence in the competency of the Buhari-led economic team to lead us out of this logjam, we believe that by consulting relevant stakeholders, thereby creating ample opportunities to make meaningful inputs in Government’s action plans, would go a long way to reduce the resistance of the masses to Government policies and programs; which could be misinterpreted as despotic and undemocratic when imposed on the people without their input and buy-in”, VOAN stressed.
It added that for the subsidy removal to be completely accepted by the masses, infrastructures, people-oriented policies and palliatives measures should not only be put together in a master plan, but also implemented ahead of the subsidy removal so that the negative effects on the masses would be cushioned.
The group also advised the federal government to revamp the moribund refineries in the country and also encourage local refining of the nation’s crude oil to avoid further economic misfortune.
“Furthermore, we call on the Federal Government to review the country’s near absolute reliance on refined oil import for local consumption which has exposed the Nigeria consumer pricing to the vagaries and vicissitudes of global oil market especially demand shocks and price volatility, giving rise to the notorious subsidy regime, and steer us towards a more sustainable local refining capacity development that would insulate us against international oil speculations. The telecom industry is a good example of such international insulation.
“In the main time, we call on oil marketers as a matter of national urgency to mitigate the suffering of our members – the Vehicle Owners who are made to queue for days in the oil stations or buy adulterated fuel from the ‘black market’ at exorbitant rates and at risk to their vehicles by making fuel available to the public as quickly as possible,’‘ the group added.
VOAN, an umbrella body for all organized Vehicle Owners in Nigeria, also said it was aligning itself with the NLC, TUC and other organized civil society groups in the mother of all rallies of Wednesday and called on all Vehicle Owners to “warm up as we prepare to resist the increase”.
Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) headed by Alhaji Balarabe Musa has urged Nigerians to occupy the country as regards the subsidy removal and not believe the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), as according to him, the NLC has been compromised.