How President Buhari can end fuel scarcity – SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently propose a bill to the National Assembly that would explicitly recognize access of Nigerians to regular fuel supply as a human right, with specific responsibilities on the authorities to proactively prevent and combat the problem and the associated human rights violations.

The organization lamented that millions of Nigerians are suffering due to fuel scarcity and that preventing and ending the problem is not only a moral duty for the current government but also a legal and human right obligation.

In a statement on Monday by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale, the organisation said, “Access to regular fuel supply is logically derived from the people’s right to their natural wealth and resources.

“Oil shouldn’t be a ‘curse’ for Nigerians; being endowed with natural resources ought to be a synonym for wealth and development, and not extreme poverty and suffering. The recognition of the right to regular fuel supply would be a building block to initiate the chain of decisions necessary to prevent the dire effects of persistent scarcity.

“Given the persistent problem of fuel scarcity in the country, the appropriate course of action is to explicitly establish a human right to regular fuel supply and to criminalize hoarding of fuel by marketers. Recognition of the right to regular fuel supply is the best opportunity to thwart scarcity and its effects, and improve access for large portions of the country’s population.

“The issues involved in fuel scarcity stem largely from the lack of recognition as a human right. Fuel is required for a range of different purposes to realize many human rights. In the short-term, Buhari must move swiftly to end the fuel scarcity, and end fuel price jumps by marketers, if his government is to reverse the growing unemployment and hunger for tens of millions of poor and disadvantaged Nigerians.

“While the recognition of the right to regular fuel supply may not allay current suffering, it would place the issue of scarcity and human need at the forefront of national discourse. If recognized and implemented, an official statement of the right to regular fuel supply would force the government to be more proactive in preventing fuel scarcity, and making the necessary policy changes to ensure that access would not be disrupted in the future.”

“Government would be held accountable for its action and would be responsible for adapting its policies to include the goals of repairing and maintaining our refineries and citizens’ access. Fuel scarcity will not be solved through policy decisions or legislation alone, but will also require the coordinated efforts of the entire institutions of governance and anti-corruption agencies to combat the systemic corruption and impunity of perpetrators in the oil and gas sector.

“SERAP is concerned that the exploitation of the country’s natural resources has historically gone against the interests and fundamental human rights of disadvantaged and marginalized Nigerians. We note the 1962 General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) which declares in its preamble that states’ right to dispose of their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and the well-being of their people.

“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. Buhari should send a strong message that his government will not tolerate a situation under successive governments, which permitted increasing wealth for some and perpetrating a growing poverty for others.”

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