Subsidy removal: ANEEJ Mulls Monitoring FG’s $800M Palliatives Disbursement to Poor Nigerians
BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. April 12, 2023… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a leading anti-corruption watchdog dedicated to asset recovery has committed to monitoring the $800m borrowed from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), to provide post-petroleum subsidy palliatives for over 50 million Nigerians ahead of June 2023.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ and the Vice-chair of the UNCAC coalition, Rev. David Ugolor disclosed this, in a swift reaction to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed’s revelation on Wednesday that the Federal Government has secured $800m to give cash transfers to the most vulnerable citizens that have been registered in a national social register.
“We welcome the development as the right way to go before unleashing hardship on the citizens. It is a global best practice to protect vulnerable populations when you are to introduce harsh economic policy such as the planned removal of petrol subsidy. But as an organization, ANEEJ and its allies, spread across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria will monitor the disbursement of the palliative to the targeted 10 million households or approximately 50 million Nigerians,” Ugolor stated.
“ANEEJ and its allies would independently follow the money and ensure that it gets to the poor and vulnerable citizens enrolled in the National Social register. This is flowing from our experience in the implementation of two social protection projects in the country– the Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Returned Assets (MANTRA) and Enhancing Social Protection Programme in Nigeria (ESPPIN) projects supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)/Switzerland embassy and Bread for the World, Germany respectively,” the ANEEJ boss emphasized.
The PIA, which Buhari signed into law on August 16, 2021, provides for complete deregulation of all petroleum products originally scheduled to begin in January 2022 but was later postponed to June 2023. Mrs. Ahmed while briefing newsmen on Wednesday emphasized that the cash transfer was a planned and calculated effort by government to alleviate the severe impact that the removal of fuel subsidy would have on already vulnerable Nigerians.
While emphasizing the need for greater resources to allow the government to do more than simply cash transfers, Mrs Ahmed highlighted several other projects and initiatives that may be explored to reduce the burden on Nigerians, such as a “mass transit” system for workers’ daily commutes.
Applauding the initiative by the Nigerian government, Ugolor emphasised the importance of Civil Society Organizations as independent monitors in disbursing this palliative. “Involvement of civil society organizations in the monitoring of this fund would not only improve transparency in the disbursement process but would also boost Nigerians’ faith in their government, which has deprived them of adequate development over the years.”
Recall the success of the acclaimed MANTRA model of asset recovery, in which over 700 CSOs independently monitored the disbursement of the $322.5 million repatriated Abacha loot from Switzerland to over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians, Ugolor called for synergy between the government and CSOs in the process to advance transparency and accountability.