Rights activists and groups have warned the Federal Government against following the advice of International Monetary Fund to remove the subsidy on petroleum products. They accused the global lender of issuing anti-poor policies.
The Save Nigeria Group, Campaign for Democracy and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project took turns to warn the government against being pushed by the organisation.
IMF had urged the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to remove the subsidy completely to ensure fiscal adjustment.
Senior Resident Representative/Mission Chief of IMF in the country, Mr. Williams Rogers, while speaking to the media on Thursday, had insisted that the removal became necessary for planned savings in recurrent spending. He said Nigeria required public sector reforms.
Rogers also recommended that the Federal Government should mobilise non-oil revenues and strengthen oil-price rule and oil savings mechanism, while pushing for the maintenance of a tight monetary policy.
Speaking to one of our correspondents, the spokesperson for the SNG, Yinka Odumakin, however said any attempt to remove subsidy would create more hardship and lead to masses’ revolt.
He said, “IMF wants to set Nigeria on fire because people have been pushed to the limit. Any attempt to add more hardship to them will create a serious dislocation in the system. We are advising Jonathan not to listen to IMF. Given all that is affecting the country, including insecurity, he cannot afford any uprising by the people. The government should not listen to IMF at all.”
National President, CD, Joe Okei-Odumakin, also said it would be counterproductive for the government to take to the advice.
She said the advice was meant to aggravate poverty and was not in tune with the economic situation in the country.
She also said the government often ignored the right advice from the people.
Okei-Odumakin queried the benefits an average man would derive from huge foreign reserves, especially in a nation where majority of the people were impoverished.
She said, “It is misplaced; it’s uncalled for; it’s reckless; highly insensitive and not in tune with the suffering of the poor masses in this country. What IMF is asking for is a full-blown revolution.
“All the government is subsidising is corruption. Has corruption been removed? Corruption is still there, eating deeper into the fabrics of this country. Except the IMF wants a full-blown revolution, it should not continue with the misplaced advice.
“They should not dare the masses of this country; they should not exhaust our patience. The Federal Government has been beating the masses with a horsewhip, now IMF wants the government to use scorpion to kill us. We will never allow that.”
In the same vein the Executive Director, SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said internal policies rather than foreign ones remained the best option for the country.
He said IMF’s advice to developing nations had always been counterproductive, adding that the organisation usually had ulterior motives behind its programmes.
Mumuni said, “Historically, whatever the IMF says, we have seen over the years that it is not always in favour of developing countries. We don’t need its advice. Let the government consider what the interest of the generality of the people is.
“Whatever advice it gives has not benefited developing countries. All its recommendations, once applied in developing countries, usually lead to disaster. The government should consider the Nigerian peculiarity and decide on what is suitable for the country.”