LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS JOS, NIGERIA

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DEREGULATION: IN WHO’S INTEREST?

15th October 200

DEREGULATION: IN WHO’S INTEREST?
The federal government has once again threatened to impose full deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry on Nigerians against their will. While government had given its inability to sustain the huge subsidy that it pays out for fuel as the major reason for the planned deregulation, it has argued further that it will, through deregulation, reduce the level of distortions or corruption involved in oil transactions and that it will offer more benefits to Nigerians, because the oil market will become more efficient and the resulting benefits will be passed on to Nigerians in the form of lower product prices, better quality of service and ease, as well, as constant availability of the product. With due respect, nothing can be more fallacious than this. We have argued in the past that for any Nigerian government to talk about removing subsidy on petroleum product, such government must first explain to Nigerians in clear terms how trillions of dollars generated from the oil sector over the years has translated into better life for Nigerians. The government must explain in clears terms why our refineries have defied repairs despite the billions that have been appropriated into that. What do we have on ground to show for the boom in oil prices over the years? This is a country where infrastructures are dead, power supply is zero, and the health and education sectors are daily on the decline. Reports have it that about 75million Nigerians still go to bed hungry. This is the irony of Nigeria; rich country with poor people.

It is therefore not enough to tell us what huge amount government is spending on subsidy; government should tell us how the remaining revenue has been used for our common good. If truly we can call it subsidy, apparently that is the only thing Nigerians enjoy from their collective wealth, after all, we provide basic amenities for ourselves, for those we can provide and endure the poor state or total unavailability of others. What then is the responsibility of government? To share and ferry away our collective wealth? Until government is able to put the basic infrastructures in place and empower the poor masses, full deregulation can only mean further impoverishment of the masses and therefore unacceptable.

The Gruesome Murder of Grace Adie Ushang in Maiduguri
The recent gruesome murder of Grace Adie Ushang, a youth corps member serving in Maiduguri is, to say the least, barbaric and totally condemnable. It is totally unacceptable that fellow Nigerians could under whatever guise carry out such criminal act on a lady in the service of her fatherland. We call on the Nigerian police and indeed the government of Bornu State to ensure that perpetrators of this cruel act are brought to book. We sympathise with the family of Grace and pray that her gentle soul rests in perfect peace.

The Terminus Clean-Up
Terminus axis of Jos metropolis now wears a new look following the forceful removal of stores and kiosks and prohibition of trade around the area. While this effort of the state government is commendable, the question remain, where is the government asking the traders to go? What is the alternative provided for these petty traders in the metropolis? It must be noted that most of the traders around terminus area depend on their daily sales to be able to provide food for their families. It is therefore important that government should provide alternative space that would be affordable to these displaced traders. We once again call on government to consider the rebuilding of the burnt terminus market and urgent completion of the satellite market along Rukuba Road. Displacing traders on terminus axis without providing alternative space would definitely bring untold hardship on these petty traders and their families. Government’s actions no matter how necessary must always be humane, to be otherwise is tyranny.

Public Schools Still on Strike in Plateau
It appears all have given up on the situation of education in Plateau state. Otherwise how does one explain that for more than four months now, public schools in the state have remained closed due to teachers’ strike and nothing is being done? We still want to appeal to all stakeholders in this matter to reconsider their positions for the sake of the children of poor masses who cannot afford the expensive private schools. We must not forget posterity will judge all our actions and inactions.

Akinropo Omoware Esq.
Legal Officer

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