Mixed reactions have trailed the news of the Federal Government proposed payment of N5,000 monthly to ‘poor’ Nigerians as relief funds on transportation fare from June 2022, after the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products, in particular, the premium motor spirit, (pms); or in our local terms, fuel/petrol.
Different unions in the country, from the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC), the Trade Union Congress, (TUC), the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), to Afenifere the Pan Yoruba socio-political organization… have all with one voice, kicked against the planned astronomic hike in the costs of pump price of fuel to between N320 – N350 per litre, with effect from June 2022.
The Federal Government has said, its transport subsidy payment would be transferred electronically to indigent Nigerians for a period of 6-12 months to enable citizens adjust to the new increase in pump prices of fuel.
This is according to the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who while briefing journalists in Abuja after the Federal Executive Council, (FEC), meeting, said, “fuel subsidy costs the country nearly N250 billion per month and N3 trillion yearly,” and that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) only remits near-zero naira to the government. Consequently, the expedient removal of subsidy on fuel.
Minister Zainab Ahmed, afterwards, reiterated that, the FG hopes to encourage its citizens under the word, ‘vulnerable’ with N5,000 relief fund, as support fund, upon approval from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), for the period of 6-12 months. This she said, about 20 – 40 million Nigerians will benefit from the FG gesture.
Different Nigerian Unions and Associations, have however, unanimously announced to the FG that, this proposed plan will further heighten the sufferings of the masses, who are already groaning under the President Buhari led All ProgressivesCongress, (APC), and the attendant effects of the decision may be devastating to the country.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Adeola Olamilekan Solomon, while also speaking to journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, said, their is no provision for N5,000 subsidy relief funds, for almost 40 million Nigerians as transport allowance, in the proposed 2022 budget as declared by the FG.
The Associations, listed above, under various nomenclature, in press releases, called on Nigerians to reject the government’s decision, as this will further cause untold pain, and hardship, on the already stressed Nigerian masses.
“Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, talked about the reactivation of the four petroleum refineries along with the coming on stream of the ones being built by private investors. Why is government unwilling to wait for the refineries to start full production before removing the phantom fuel subsidy?
“Fuel subsidy mantra has been on for a long time. It has been proven to be an avenue to siphon public fund. But then, government should stop using it as an excuse to inflict pains on the people. It should fix the refineries, ensure that they are in full swing production before talking about fuel price of any sort.”
“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira, which currently goes for N560 to 1US$ in the parallel market. Thus, any attempt to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries would be set on a faulty premise…”
In HURIWA’s words,
“We urge Nigerians to speak out, and reject this attempt at spreading toxic economic hardships, as is being packaged by President Buhari…”
“This government led Nigeria, to the inglorious status as the poverty capital of the world; and that, the government is the most recklessly corrupt, lawless, and thieving administration, since Nigeria’s amalgamation in 1914.”