U.S. Government Support of “subsidy” removal reiterated

January 17, 2012


Politicians behind subsidy riot – Jonathan •US backs subsidy removal •Cautions FG on implementation

The Nigerian Tribune, January 17, 2012


US Support
Meanwhile, the United States government openly declared its support for the removal of the fuel subsidy, but cautioned the Federal Government on how it manages the situation, according to a press release from the US State Department issued on Monday.

Empowered Newswire reported that US administration officials, speaking with reporters travelling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to West Africa this week, said of the fuel subsidy removal by the Nigerian government, “we support the government’s efforts to remove the fuel subsidy; how they do it is, of course, a question that they have to work out.”

Clinton is visiting, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo and then Cape Verde. The US government statement, however, came before the deployment of troops in Lagos on Monday morning.

Previously both the US government and the United Nations had cautioned the Nigerian government on its use of force in quelling the protests, with the UN Human Rights Commission warning that atrocities committed in Nigeria was being observed globally and some of them might be crimes against humanity, against international treaties and fundamental human rights.

But while speaking to reporters on Sunday, the US administration officials with Clinton said while the American government supported the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria, “the issue is a serious one for them, and it will be one that they will have to deal with and work through over the next several weeks.”

According to the US government press release, the fuel subsidy in Nigeria is very costly and has kept the prices abnormally low.

The US government press release quoting a US official said: “There is currently an ongoing strike in that country related to the government’s efforts to remove a very costly fuel subsidy which has kept fuel prices abnormally low, and which has resulted in the government losing something in the neighbourhood of $8-$9 billion worth of revenues every year.”

The US said it regarded Nigeria along with South Africa, as “one of the two most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” with what the US estimates as 170 million people and being the largest African supplier of petroleum to the United States – coming in at roughly eight or nine per cent, “rivalling anything we get from Saudi Arabia – this is a country of great significance.”

Continuing, the US government added that the reason the Nigerian government wanted to stop the subsidy “is because there has been a huge import of fuel into the country, which is then smuggled out of the country across the borders into Togo, Benin, into Niger, and into Cameroon, which is also an enormous drain on the federal Nigerian budget.”

The statement then noted, however, that the Nigerian federal government would have to work through this, but that the US supported the government’s efforts to remove the fuel subsidy.

According to the press release from the State Department, four top US officials spoke to reporters on the record, but on condition of anonymity, as is often the practice of US government when it chooses to speak without identifying the name of public officials. The agreement with reporters who spoke live with these officials is to simply refer to them as administration officials.



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