Subsidy removal policy deserves a second look


The major discourse across Nigeria now is the reality and the biting effects of the subsidy removal from petroleum products. President Bola Tinubu had last week Monday during his inaugural speech disclosed that subsidy regime which made the country spend as much as N400 billion monthly is gone. The country is said to be owing the NNPCL a whooping sum of N2.8 trillion being backlog of debt for payment of the controversial subsidy.

President Tinubu had stated that subsidy from next month, that is, July was not appropriated for the country in this year budget, hence the move to yank it off.

The implication of this is that Premium Motor Spirit per litre price which was pegged at N190 per litre under subsidy regime jumped to between N500 and N600 naira after the removal of subsidy to reflect the true market situation.

Expectedly, being very central to the country’s economy, the increase in the pump price of the PMS has led to increase in transportation fares to the tune of over 200 per cent. The prices of commodities have also gone up as they react to the reality of the new pump price of Petrol. Schools have been adjusting their fees to reflect the new economic reality.

Life, of course, has been made more hectic as Nigerians try to grapple with the financial difficulty this removal of subsidy has caused. With a minimum wage of N30,000  which is less than $40, epileptic power supply, wide spread poverty, joblessness by over 50 per cent of the country’s 210 million population, many have outrightly condemned this action of the government saying that the removal of subsidy would only impoverish more Nigerians and make life more hellish.

While the truth is there for all to see that the government is actually losing a lot of resources to subsidy payment, Nigerians have argued that the only problem with the subsidy is the endemic corruption in this policy and it is what the government should fight wholeheartedly and not make Nigerians suffer unnecessarily.

Many Nigerians are of the strong opinion that if the new government will courageously tackle the issue of fantastic corruption in subsidy payment, the policy will go ahead and serve the purpose for which it was formulated.

For, instance there have been reports of many subsidy thieves caught in the media but nothing has been done to them as we speak and there are  issues like this making those earning billions of dollars from the subsidy payment to continue with the looting spree.

It is the opinion of many Nigerians that as an oil producing country, the resources that we have in abundance, why should we then have to use all our resources to buy fuel alone?

For instance, in some oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the pump price is said to be between N200 and N230 per litre and this in addition to the fact that these people have access to qualitative living, qualitative healthcare, education, infrastructure among others.

Yes, if the government will claim that the refineries have not been working, what does it take to build another one? Why should we forever think that we shall be importing fuel?

It’s against this background that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have said that except the government suspends this policy and reverts to old pump price of N190  per litre, they would be forced to embark on industrial action today, Wednesday.

TUC in their Sunday meeting with the Federal Government which the NLC leadership shunned demanded that the Federal Government should first of all stop the policy and then constitute a dialogue and negotiation team that will look at how best to implement this policy with minimum discomfort to Nigerians.

Both leadership of the two labour unions have insisted that the hardship the removal of the subsidy on petroleum products has heaped on hapless Nigerians is suffocating and so, it must be a well thought out policy with lots of cushioning effects before it could be implemented.

Unfortunately, media reports are suggesting that some people including the Federal Government is seeing the hard stance of the leadership of NLC led by Comrade Joe Ajaero against this removal of subsidy through the prism of politics and ethnicity.

This is a very wrong assumption because the biting effects of this policy cut across the country, no part of the country is spared. The truth is that Nigerians were not finding it easy even before the advent of the subsidy removal, so this additional burden is only worsening the already terrible situation.

It is against this background  that President Bola Tinubu is being urged to take a second look at the removal of the fuel subsidy. He definitely needs to consult far and wide, engage the labour leadership and come out with practical ways to cushion the crushing effects of this controversial policy.

Nigeria is not the only country that engages in subsidy to make life easier for its citizens, US, UK among others do same, so the onus is on Federal Government to get its act right and stop making Nigerians suffer unnecessarily for its inefficiency. We never voted for more hardship but life abundant.