The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), in a statement by its National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko on Wednesday has criticized the idea of palliative as a response to the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
HURIWA called for a revolutionary reformulation of the relief policy, proposing a more dignified approach to addressing the issue.
According to the group, the core of their argument is the belief that the Nigerian constitution restricts any policy that might subvert its citizens.
It said, “In particular, Chapter 4 underscores the importance of upholding the dignity of the human person”. Against this backdrop, HURIWA fervently opposed the prevailing notion that palliatives are the way forward, as it implies that citizens are reduced to the status of beggars, left to scramble for meagre offerings from the government’s table.
HURIWA further asserted that such an approach fundamentally contradicts the principles of good governance and justice, especially considering that the funds used for these programs essentially constitute the commonwealth of the Nigerian people.
HURIWA argued that the current method of distributing palliatives, often through governors or the president, is constitutionally questionable. “This approach has been met with widespread scepticism and has failed to alleviate the hardships caused by the removal of fuel subsidies, leaving many Nigerians disgruntled and frustrated”.
In light of these concerns, HURIWA urged the government to embrace a comprehensive policy overhaul.
Instead of palliatives, the association proposed the implementation of a fuel voucher system, one that offers a more dignified and equitable solution to the fuel subsidy issue. “Under this envisioned system, fuel vouchers would be distributed every month to Nigerians facing economic hardships.”
Crucially, HURIWA emphasised the need for a scientific, verifiable, and transparent process to identify eligible beneficiaries, ensuring that the support reaches those who need it most. “The fuel vouchers, once distributed, would serve as a means of payment for transportation expenses, directly addressing the core concern of high fuel costs.”
Additionally, HURIWA raised crucial questions about President Tinubu’s claim of substantial savings resulting from the fuel subsidy withdrawal.
“Given the official position that fuel subsidies were not included in the 2023 yearly budget, there is growing demand for clarity regarding the source of these unbudgeted cash benefits. This inquiry seeks to unravel how these funds were procured, as transparency and accountability are deemed paramount in understanding the financial mechanisms at play”.
HURIWA submitted that by advocating for a fuel voucher system, they aimed to not only rectify the perceived constitutional and ethical shortcomings of the current approach but also to provide Nigerians with a more efficient and effective mechanism for mitigating the impact of fuel subsidy removal
While indicating that In doing so, the association seeks to uphold the dignity and rights of all Nigerians while promoting a more just and equitable society.