17th January, 2012
Save Nigeria Group (SNG) says it has concluded plans to drag the Federal Government before the court to compel an investigation into how the Federal Government ended up spending N1.6 trillion as against the N240 billion budgeted for subsidy in the 2011 fiscal year.
Convener of the group, Pastor Tunde Bakare said this at a press conference today in Lagos where he condemned government refusal to explain to Nigerians how they spent N1.6 trillion as against N250 billion budgetary provision for fuel subsidy.
The radical pastor also rejected the new N97 fuel pump price fixed by government, saying the price is not what the Nigerian people demanded.
He also berated the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) for calling off the strike without consulting several civil society groups that took part in the protest.
Speaking on the groups next line of action, Bakare said: “We shall use the court to compel an investigation into how the Federal Government ended up spending N1.6 trillion as against the N240 billion budgeted for subsidy in the 2011 fiscal year.
“We cannot sweep under the carpet the spending of over N1.3 trillion without appropriation by the National Assembly.
“We shall neither ‘move on’ on this matter until the full weight of the law comes on all those involved in this illegal spending. Nor shall we fold our hands if the FGN through the EFCC becomes both judge and jury in a matter involving government officials and their corporate cronies.”
Bakare also noted that SNG will challenge the violation of the rights of protesters who converged on Ojota by the Federal Government through deployment of soldiers to intimidate and harass peaceful protesters.
Condemning the action in strong terms, Bakare said: “This violation is totally uncalled for. It is unfortunate that this brutal dictatorship is taking place in a civilian dispensation.
“We chose to be much more mature than the Federal Government by not allowing any ugly situation to be created at the park.
“We shall definitely enforce our rights in court to teach the regime the basic principles of civilised conduct in a democratic setting.”
Bakare also thanked thousands of Nigerians who trooped to the streets to say no to what he described as government’s attempt to impoverish the masses.
He said: “As a mark of appreciation of the new found spirit, the general strike and citizens action which followed the January 1, 2012 on 117 percent increase in the pump price of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) has proved a defining moment in the history of our country and one from which the correct lessons must be learnt and matters arising squarely dealt with in order to deepen our democracy and ensure that our country is never run again in the old way.
“That such an astronomical and unprecedented hike was done in a fell swoop was an audacious move that signaled the deep contempt by the government for the capacity of the Nigerian people to show righteous indignation over vicious attack on their living rights.
“Those in authority must have concluded that with the level of poverty inflicted on our people, especially in the last 13 years where poverty has risen in inverse proportion to the growth in revenue, the anguish of spirit has raised a totally docile citizenry who will only dig a hole to escape and continue running when pushed to the wall.
“This is the only explanation for the impunity with which all warnings from organised labour and the civil society were treated by the Federal Government whose officials were so arrogant and condescending in their public utterances on the issue of subsidy removal.”
Expressing disappointment about the decision of NLC and TUC without consulting their civil society allies, Bakare said: “Though we are very disappointed in the way the controlling leadership of the NLC and TUC have buckled in the knees without consulting the SNG and its allies and without achieving their resolution that ‘reversal to N65 per litre shall be the basis of any negotiation’, we do not want our people to be disillusioned about their capacity to bring about change in the society.
“While we outrightly reject the unilateral fixing of pump price at N97 by the Federal Government upon which the controlling leadership of NLC & TUC threw a spanner in the wheel of people’s movement, it must not be lost on our patriotic people that the climb down by a government which had arrogantly declared that its decision was final is the proverbial eating of the humble pie.
“So also are the administration’s pledges to investigate the oil subsidy cabal, ensure that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed and cut the cost of governance. These are issues the regime was not ready to address before the movement of the people.
“Nigerians must not give up on these issues until logical and conclusive actions are taken on them.”
Bakare announced at the conference that SNG will hold a victory march on Saturday 21 January at the Gani Fawehinmi Park.
He urged Nigerians to come out en mass to support the march.