Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “roll up his sleeves, exercise his authority as the Minister of Petroleum Resources” and find a solution to a lingering fuel scarcity “clearly exacerbating extreme/absolute poverty (and) stripping millions of Nigerians any real opportunity to exercise their human rights”.
In a statement by SERAP executive director Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, “the longer this fuel scarcity continues the greater the difficulties Nigerians will face”.
“President Buhari now has to take control of the Ministry of Petroleum to end continuing suffering by ensuring that fuel is available and properly distributed across the country. There’s a lot of work to do in this sector; so the President should roll up his sleeves and sort this out before it goes out of hand.”
SERAP added: “Nigerians need a permanent solution to the fuel crisis. Given the country’s status among oil producing countries, this government must not fall for the quick fix and the short-termism that characterised the policies of successive governments.
“The chaos which seems to be developing across the country has subjected many Nigerians to harsh economic and social conditions, making them incapable of developing their abilities and realising their potential.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Nigerians will be put through severe economic conditions, which may amount to torture or cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.”
“Despite the country’s commitment under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Nigeria ratified the Covenant in October 1993), successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 have failed to ensure availability of fuel nationally, thereby rendering already impoverished citizens incapable of satisfying their minimum needs for survival.”
“The current development has perpetrated a string of misfortunes for the citizens: poor living conditions, ill-health, marginalization, and an inability to enter into the life of society and assume responsibilities. This situation is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s human rights commitments, and cannot be justified given that Nigeria is among leading producers of oil in the world.”
“Indeed, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights itself has recognized poverty as a violation of the obligations assumed by states parties under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a party.”
“The President must now urgently address the continuing problem of fuel scarcity and to ensure full and unhindered supply of fuel throughout the country by sorting out the refineries and addressing the systemic corruption in the sector. This is the time for President Buhari to address accountability issues around the fuel subsidy fraud.”
“The President should send a strong message that his government will not tolerate a situation under successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 which permitted increasing wealth for some and perpetrating a growing poverty for others. This situation is incompatible with the letter and spirit of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and constitutes a serious violation of the Covenant’s provisions.”