Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to, “urgently publish details of spending of about N400 billion so far saved as from the removal of petrol subsidy.
The group also urged Tinubu to, “provide details of the plans on how subsequent savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol, including specific projects on which the funds would be spent.
Quoting media reports, SERAP said the federal government had saved N400 billion within the four weeks following the implementation of the policy on the removal of payment of subsidy on petrol.
SERAP demanded for the mechanisms that had been put in place to ensure that such savings were not embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.
The organisation stated this in a letter dated July 1, 2023, and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
The letter read in part:
“Your government has a legal responsibility to ensure that the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are spent solely for the benefit of the 137 million poor Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of the removal.Prevention of corruption in the spending of savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol and preventing and addressing the challenges caused by the removal are serious and legitimate public interests.
“Nigerians have the right to know how the savings are spent. Publishing the details of the spending of the savings would promote transparency, accountability, and reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds.
“SERAP is concerned that the savings from subsidy removal may be embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.“Opacity in the spending of the savings from subsidy removal would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.“Unless the government is transparent and accountable to Nigerians in how it spends the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol, the removal will continue to undermine the rights of Nigerians, and increase their vulnerability to poverty and social deprivation.“Transparency would ensure that the funds saved from the removal of subsidy are not diverted into private pockets, and increase public trust and confidence that these savings would be used to benefit Nigerians.
“The implementation of the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP) and spending on the programme have been mostly shrouded in secrecy.“Publishing the details of the spending of the N400 billion and other savings from the removal of subsidy would also ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties including the management of the funds.”It noted that lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol and the resulting human costs would directly threaten fundamental human rights.SERAP added that the Tinubu’s government has the legal obligations to address the effects of subsidy removal on the human rights of 137 million poor Nigerians.SERAP also urged Tinubu to promptly instruct the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of all savings from subsidy removal.
“SERAP is seriously concerned that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of public funds and entrenched impunity of perpetrators have undermined public trust and confidence in governments at all levels.“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including the details of how the N400bn and other savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol would be spent.
“By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, there are transparency obligations imposed on your government to widely publish the details of how the N400bn and other savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are spent.
“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution imposes clear responsibility on your government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the responsibility on your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” in the country.“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity,” SERAP said