Eminent Nigerians and other stakeholders have continued to react to the Federal Government proposed plans to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol.
The government, through the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, recently announced it would soon stop fuel subsidy, promising to replace it with a monthly N5000 transport grant to poor Nigerians.
Speaking at the launch of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU), the minister said: “The subsidies regime in the (oil) sector remains unsustainable and economically disingenuous.
“Ahead of the target date of mid-2022 for the complete elimination of fuel subsidies, we are working with our partners on measures to cushion potential negative impact of the removal of the subsidies on the most vulnerable at the bottom 40% of the population.
“One of such measures would be to institute a monthly transport subsidy in the form of cash transfer of N5,000 to between 30-40 million deserving Nigerians.
“We are very optimistic that the recent developments in the oil sector, such as the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, hopefully, the full reactivation of the four public refineries in the country, and the completion and coming on stream of the three private refineries under construction in 2022, would significantly boost contribution from the sector to our economic growth efforts.”
But the National President, Progressive Shareholders Association, Mr Boniface Okezie, who spoke to our correspondent, argued that the decision of the federation government concerning the subsidy removal is in bad taste.
According to him, the government should first put the refineries in place before taking such a decision.
He explained that the four refineries in the country are not functioning, and if they are functioning at all, it is at a near-zero level.
“There is zero consultation with stakeholders to even consider issues around deregulation and why it should or should not be. The survival of Nigerian citizens and their ward should be paramount to a sensitive government, instead of sniffing life out of them through hardship. This is terrible,” he said.
Also speaking, a Stockbroker and a financial commentator, Mr. Adewale Akinola said “this sinister plan is the quest of the government to get money at all costs to squander and finance the ostentatious lifestyles of public officers and senior civil servants.
“This government never meant well for the people. The government is very insensitive and anti people.
“Their reasons are selfish and uncalled for. I will implore Nigerians to resist any attempt to increase petrol pump price again.”
The co-spokesperson of Coalition for United Political Parties (CUPP), Comrade Mark Adebayo, in his reaction told our correspondent:
“There is no subsidy removal, it’s just a deliberate increase in the pump prices of fuel products. By President Buhari’s own admission, there is no subsidy. He declared publicly that if anyone said he was subsidizing anything, such a person is a fraud. Therefore, is the president telling us he is a fraud?
“The proposed so-called ‘subsidy removal’ is a decisive blow to the already suffering and over traumatized Nigerians. For an economy that is performing at less than 2% and poverty level skyrocketing as additional 12 million Nigerians slid below international poverty line in the last quarter to join about 100 million already there, for the Buhari administration to even remotely contemplate increasing the pump price of petroleum products, especially the PMS, is not only insensitive but clearly inhuman.
“It is a reprehensible policy borne out of a wicked heart and cumulative state mismanagement – aka incompetency. I do not know how Nigerians can survive under such an outrageous and calamitous excruciation of their economic conditions. The Labour and Civil Society must rise up in unison as we did during the Jonathan administration to resist this evil. We won’t allow this government to continue to ride roughshod over us by its consistent punitive policies that press the masses so hard.