THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project says the protracted scarcity of fuel in Nigeria amounts to a violation of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the Nigerian government.
The group, in a statement on Monday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, noted that the protracted fuel scarcity had not only deprived Nigerians of unquantifiable economic opportunities, but it had also subjected them to unwarranted torture,cruel and degrading experiences.
SERAP said it was time President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, rose up to the occasion to find a permanent solution to the fuel scarcity crisis in Nigeria.
The group,which noted that the fuel scarcity crisis predated the Buhari government, stressed that what Nigeria needed is a permanent solution and not “the quick fix and the short-termism that characterised the policies of successive governments.”
SERAP said, “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, marginalisation, 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 recognised 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.”
It challenged Buhari to send a strong message to that his government will not tolerate a situation which permitted a few to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses who are subjected to growing poverty.
It added,“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. 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.”