The federal government has explained its decision to fully remove subsidy from petrol, saying the country stands to rake in over ₦1 trillion annually which would be deployed to fund other critical components of the economy.
Minister of state for Petroleum and Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, during an interview with some political correspondents Thursday in Abuja, also revealed that from next month (October) Nigerians can now convert cars using petroleum to gas, which he said will be more cheaper.
“It is time for Nigerians to face reality and do the right thing. What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning it will save us up to a trillion and more every year. Already, we have taken up the budgetary provision for subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget. Also, we have taken off the excess forex price that special rate that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost. So, all the money that we used to defend the naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development.
“I believe that this discussion around subsidy has been a vexed issue that has captured the imagination of this country for a long time now. Successive administrations have attempted to deregulate. But sometimes, some administrations lacked the political will and at other times, the time was not good for it. And why did I say the time was not good for it? Does that imply the time is good for it now? The problem around deregulation is that people must understand first, that the product we are talking about is a derivative of crude oil. It is refined from crude oil. Therefore, it has a direct relationship with the price of crude oil. If the price of crude oil goes up, then you expect that it would reflect in the price of the derivative.
“So, the best time to achieve this we looked at was the time when crude oil prices are low so that Nigerians will get the benefit of those low prices. In March, when we announced the deregulation, the prices were low and that advantage was transferred to the consumer. So, we brought down the price of petrol. The unfortunate thing is that when we brought down the price of petrol, nobody reacted in the market place. The prices were the same. Nobody reduced their prices because price of petrol had reduced. Even bus fares, taxi fares were the same. It did not go down when we reduced the pump price of petrol. We thought that those people in the market; the transport drivers and transport owners would reduce their price. But nobody reduced their prices. But anytime there is even a kobo increase in the pump price of product, you see that people will increase their prices triple fold and four fold.”
On the plan to roll out car conversion next month, the former Bayelsa state governor said: “To give it (Deregulation) a human face, we are introducing an alternative fuel. We are giving auto gas. Gas will now become a fuel for our cars. This programme will be rolled out within the next one month. So, if you go to a filling station and you convert your car to dual capability or dual fuel, then you drive into a typical filling station you will find gas LPG, you find CNG and NLG being sold. So, if you look at the price of PMS versus the price of gas and you think that gas is cheaper which of course, it is going to be cheaper.
“Gas will even be cheaper that PMS as it is today. So you see that we are also giving an alternative to the ordinary Nigerians. You now have a situation where tricycle, I pass my neighbour generators etc will convert to gas. So, you connect your gas cylinder in your house to your generator and it becomes easier for you, cheaper and cleaner. We are not just deregulating, we are also giving you an alternative to make it easier for the average Nigerians. What I want you to begin to really understand more is how you are going to transit from fuel to gas, and you will see that you will not miss much. The average transporter will probably even be better off with gas. So we are introducing it as an alternative at least to cushion the effect so that when you go to a filling station you have options. And that programmes will be rolled out within the next one month. And it is going to create a lot of opportunities and jobs. So, you see that deregulation has not taken away the human face from this government. This government is still a government of the people and by the people.”
While urging Nigerians not to listen to the antics of the opposition elements, the Minister said: “At this moment, let Nigerians not be fooled; there are people who are ready to take advantage of every situation to create anarchy and chaos. And it is this people that are at work now. Is anybody saying that this policy direction is a wrong policy direction? That is the discussion we should be having. If it is a wrong policy direction, why has every successive government attempted to do the sane thing? Because it is something that is unsustainable. Subsidy is unsustainable. Let us look at it: Subsidy means that you buy the product at a certain price and then you reduce the price and sell it at a loss to the people. It is something that is good to do. It is something that our president would like to do so much because of his love for the common man. But is it something that can be sustained in perpetuity? You get the product and sell it less at the pump. And that is not the only subsidy. You also subsidise the effects that is used to import the product. So at the end, the subsidy is going on two ways. It is like burning your candle from both ends. How long can that candle last? So in the wisdom of the President and all of us, we felt that it was time because this subsidy is something that cannot be sustained in perpetuity. It is time for Nigerians to face reality and do the right thing.
“What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning it will save us up to a trillion and more every year. Already, we have taken up the budgetary provision for subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget. Also, we have taken off the excess forex price, that special rate, that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost. So, all the money that we used to defend the Naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development. And, I believe that going forward, we will begin to see a lot more developments, a lot more money available to the government that will be put into critical infrastructure instead of being burnt in our cars.”
Sylva added that the subsidy regime was very fraudulent as only a few benefitted from it at the expense of the public.
“Let us look at subsidy critically. Who are the beneficiaries of subsidy? When a few years ago you had this subsidy scam all over the place, all the monies that were taken by all the subsidy thieves and so on, how many poor people were among those people? Subsidy only provides opportunity for rich and unscrupulous Nigerians to steal and enrich themselves at our expense, at your expense. So, ladies and gentlemen, deregulation is actually a policy direction that is good for the common Nigerian”, he added.
*Lekki Shooting: Nigerian Army acted within rules of engagement, professionalism required – Coalition*
The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) says the Nigerian Army didn’t breach its rules of engagement at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos or anywhere in the country during the EndSARS protests.
According to the coalition, the troops acted in its usual professional manner and have been agents of stabilization, instrumental to restoration of peace.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice made this revelation in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Timothy Charles, on Wednesday, in Abuja.
As a followup to the army’s statement on Tuesday, the CTJ said it carried out a preliminary investigation to ascertain the actual state of things.
It said from the footages reviewed, the troops were captured firing blank rounds to the air that couldn’t have killed anyone.
The coalition admitted that the sole confirmed fatality from the Lekki Toll gate incident was as a result of blunt force trauma and not gunshot.
With these and other “overwhelming proof”, the CTJ concluded that there was no massacre as being portrayed by “anarchists”.
It, however, urged relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate key people among the protesters, adding that it is possible that they may have opened fire on their own members.
Read full statement below:
The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ), after a careful review of available information, has reached the conclusion that the Nigerian Army did not breach its rules of engagement during the incidence at Lekki Toll Plaza and indeed any other part of Lagos state and the entire country in the course of the #EndSARS protests.
Contrary to the ongoing vilification campaign by pro-looters individuals and organizations, emerging facts rather suggest that the Nigerian Army has been an agent of stabilization that was instrumental to restoration of peace in many of the cities across the country with the curtailing of the violence that had threatened to spiral out of control.
CTJ, in response to the statement issued by the Nigerian Army Tuesday night, has carried out its preliminary investigations and far from what everyone had said, we studied the situation and came up with a clear understanding that the Nigerian Army did not breach its Rules of Engagement in all the instances claimed by propagandists.
While soldiers were being accused of shooting into the crowd of protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza, it is interesting to note that every single video clip shared by the #EndSARS protesters depicted the soldiers as firing into the air. The loud sound of the gunshots in the videos indicated that what the soldiers were firing were blank rounds while the silver shell casings retrieved from the scene by the protesters further confirmed that the rounds were blank and couldn’t have killed anyone.
We also noted that the bullets that the protesters allegedly claimed were extracted from the supposed remains of their killed colleagues did not show any deformation or denting as would be expected of projectiles that had made impact at high velocity. It is not likely that a bullet will hit someone and still retain its shape.
Furthermore, shooting 15 people dead as claimed by the #EndSARS protesters would have flooded the scene with anything upwards of 75 liters of human blood, which would have been visible for all to see on the morning of the following day. There was no such and there were no remains, except for the tenuous lie that the corpses were handed over to soldiers, something that turned out to be false since no mortuary has reported receiving the remains and the foreign partners of the protesters have not been able to come up with satellite images of freshly dug mass graves as they are used to alleging.
What we were able to establish is that the one confirmed fatality from the Lekki Toll Gate incident was from blunt force trauma and not gunshot. It is therefore trite for CTJ to point out that almost every single person that the cyber wing of the protest had trended as being killed at the toll gate have returned from the dead to refute news of their demise just as pictures from movie shoots that they attempted to use to discredit the Army have been exposed.
It is pertinent to point out that the other jurisdictions that the protesters are comparing Nigeria to would not stand by idle while arsonists and anarchists make life unbearable for other people while also destroying national assets and looting everywhere. In the United States, there have been instances when the national guard was called in to assist the civil police in curbing extreme protests. In the United Kingdom, during the 2011 London Riots, 92% of persons surveyed were opened to the Army being brought in to curtail the destruction by protesters.
Based on the insistence of the #EndSARS protesters that there was a massacre even in the absence of evidence and in the face of overwhelming proof to the contrary, CTJ finds it pertinent to demand a thorough investigation of key people among the protesters since it is possible that they opened fire on their own members within the protest in order to malign the government by accusing the Army. This possibility is high because protesters had killed many police officers on the same day, set some ablaze and committed other atrocities while the military continued to exercise restraints.
*Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management*
A special report by the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management on the immediate cause of the escalation of violence across the country in the aftermath of the Lekki Tollgate incident in Lagos State
There has recently been an astronomical level of violence across the country, especially in Lagos state; from looting and destruction of public and private properties to social amenities and business concerns.
This indeed necessitated the imposition of a 24-hour curfew by the Lagos state government in a bid to bring the conflict in the state to a halt. Consequently, the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management commissioned a special rapporteur to investigate the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos and other parts of the country.
The report looked extensively on the various conspiracy theories at play and indeed separated the facts from the falsehoods, as well as those individuals and groups whose actions and inactions were responsible for the escalation of violence.
The peaceful protest by the youths demanding for the reform of the Nigerian Police Force was ostensibly hijacked by some thugs and hoodlums that went on rampage looting, maiming and killing innocent persons going about their normal businesses.
The crisis was further escalated by the activities of fake news merchants that utilized the social media space in propagating fibs that eventually heated the polity to boiling point.
It was also observed that the protest was hijacked from the moment the protesters refused to leave the streets even after the government had agreed to their five demands and initiated moves for dialogue, which was turned down and instead police formations and units became subject of attack, leading to deaths and injuries.
It was also observed that some individuals and organizations were discreetly propelling the youths to remain on the streets in defiance of the peace overtures made by the government at the federal and state levels.
Indeed groups such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana (SAN) prominently heated the polity in several ways that include but not limited to; mobilizing social media influencers to project the government as insensitive to the demands of the youths; mobilizing logistics for street protest; mobilizing celebrities through his musician son, Folarin Falana (Falz) to discredit the efforts of government towards reforming the Nigerian Police Force as well as a host of other despicable acts that includes inciting press statements and communique.
The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management after a detailed investigation and analysis of the chain of events that eventually led to the breakdown of law and order in Lagos and other parts of the country identified that proponents of fake news indeed had a field day in ensuring that the protests gathered momentum.
The government of Nigeria as a matter of urgency and in response to the demands made by the youths directed the Inspector General of Police to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and begin the process of evaluating the mental and psychological state of operatives of the disbanded outfit, and consequently the training and retraining of these operatives before redeployment to other police units and formations.
The various state governments also instituted a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations by the Nigerian Police and the recommendation of appropriate sanctions to erring officers.
The various law enforcement agents deployed to maintain law and order utilized minimal force and only in extreme cases of excessive looting of public and private concerns and arson that force was exerted to restore law and order.
The Nigerian Army indeed rose to the occasion as the personnel deployed to various hotspots was able to restore law and order without the use of force as multiple pieces of evidence indicates that troops utilized persuasion skills rather than force as erroneously reported in the social media space and other traditional media news mediums.
It remains incomprehensible how a segment of the population would elect to spread outright falsehood in the country to encourage crime and criminality at the detriment of peace and unity.
The Lekki TollGate incident was one of the means that was latched on to escalate violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country. The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management in its analysis of events indeed identified the ignoble role played by organizations such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana.
The organization indeed issued statements that were provoking and inciting, wherein it alleged that the government was not responding to the demands of the youths and that it was business as usual in the operations of the disbanded SARS unit.
The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond did instigate the protesters through statements credited to it on the pages of newspapers and other news dissemination channels. It was also observed that the organization had formed a strategic alliance with Sahara Reporters to indiscriminately disseminate information that is inaccurate and to heat the polity and discredit the efforts of government towards the restoration of law and order in the country.
The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 also made several attempts at painting a picture of plans by the government through the Nigerian Army to kill protesters on the street, which indirectly charged the already tensed atmosphere.
The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of this investigation concludes that indeed the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country were are a result of incitements by individuals and organizations. The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, as led by Femi Falana was notorious in this regard with the multiple press statements and releases that were either mischievously or intentionally placed in the media in a manner that suggests ulterior motives.
It must also be noted that the government lost the narrative when it failed to realize that the peaceful protest was being hijacked by some forces when mobs began to target police units and formations, as well as policemen and women on duty.
The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of the findings in this report makes the following recommendations:
• That the government must identify those individuals and groups that incited the people into resorting to acts of violence
• That the Femi Falana led Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond should be held liable for the escalation of violence in the country and for leading an uprising against the country and plunging the nation into a crisis of unimaginable proportion.
• That Femi Falana should appear before an investigative panel of inquiry to give an account of the activities of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond
. That the government should trace the transactions of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond in the past one month towards ascertaining the level of complicity in the funding of the street protests across the country.
• That the security agencies must begin the process of mopping up small and light weapons in circulation in parts of the country.
Dr Thomas Uzah,
Army Degrade Bandits, Records Success
9 suspected bandit collaborators arrested at Sabon Garin Dan Ali General area in Danmusa LGA of Katsina State on 24 September 2020
The Nigeria Army has revealed that the Northwest region is beginning to witness stability and normalcy leading to massive resumption of farming and socioeconomic activities in the zone.
This is in line with the Army’s mandate to completely rid the North West zone of the country of armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and incessant killings of innocent citizens.
According to Ag Director Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY have intensified operational activities in the theatre of operation during the period under review which has led to the degradation of the bandits and their activities to the barest minimum as indicative by the successes recorded.
” These gains are gradually bringing stability and normalcy back to the zone as evident by the massive resumption of farming and socio-economic activities”.
He said it is important to note that the tremendous successes achieved since the commencement of the operation could not have been possible without the sacrifice, commitment and gallantry exhibited by the professionally and responsive soldiers of the Nigerian Army some of whom have paid the supreme price in the course of their professional calling.
Onyeuko stated that gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY within this period carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes, day and night patrols denying bandits and other criminal elements any respite.
Also numerous farm and highway patrols were carried out within Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara States thus boosting the confidence of the locals as well as commuters in carrying out their daily activities without hindrance.
These operations, he said have most importantly led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, neutralization of bandits, arrest of several bandits informants and collaborators, recovery and return of rustled cattle to their bona-fide owners.
Furthermore, “there were recoveries of large cache of arms and ammunitions as well as other dangerous weapons. Similarly, numerous captured bandits motorcycles and Bandits hideouts were destroyed by the gallant troops. Equally, a number of bandits logistics network have been smashed leading to the arrest of some of the syndicate members within the period”, he added.
That so far, in all the operations conducted between 4 September -25 October 2020, 38 armed bandits were neutralized while 93 suspected bandits logistics suppliers and collaborators were arrested. Relatedly, 30 Dane guns, 941 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition and 5 live cartridges were captured during various encounters with troops.
Also, a total of 131 cows, 154 sheep/rams and 1 camel were recovered. In all the search and rescue operations carried out, 108 kidnapped victims were rescued, 90 bandits informants and collaborators, 3 rustled cattle marketers and 12 bandits logistics suppliers were arrested. Also, a total of 10 bandit’s camps and their logistics bases were destroyed by troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY. Relatedly 47 bandits attacks and 31 kidnap incidents were foiled by the troops.
He stressed that the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY have continued to dominate all the hitherto volatile areas with confidence building patrols, ambushes and clearance operations to deny the bandits and other criminal elements freedom of action.
“Consequently, the troops are hereby commended for their gallantry, sacrifices and successes achieved so far. They are also urged not to rest on their oars but build on the achievements recorded so far.
The people of the North West zone are also appreciated for their continued cooperation in providing credible information for the success of the operation.
They are also encouraged to continue to avail the troops with actionable information that would aid the desired goal of the operation. They are further reassured of the Nigerian Army’s commitment to restore total peace in the zone and indeed the entire country”.
The Nigeria Army also thank the press family both within and beyond the zone, “your patriotic and professional zeal towards this noble course is highly commendable and appreciated. We wish to further extend our hands of partnarship to make our great country a better and safer environment”.
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