SIR: Experiences over the years have shown that subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) is a burden that must be lifted off the shoulder of the government, but in doing this, there is need to take into cognizance, the welfare of the people and their prevailing circumstances.
Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) had on September 2, announced the increase in the price of fuel from 148 – 151.56k. This was hinged on the deregulation which took effect in March.
Due to the outbreak of COVD-19 pandemic, so many companies have shut down their production lines, sent workers on leave without pay while some have been disengaged. Even the Federal government has disengaged 500, 000 N-power Volunteers in June/July, under the guise of transition to an undisclosed next level of the programme. Some of these people are fathers and mothers with children.
Most teachers at the private schools are now struggling to meet their responsibility at home because of the inability of their schools to pay them full salary while some have resulted to begging and borrowing in order to survive this trying time.
This does not exempt those working at the worship centres. The report released by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) in August, shows that the level of unemployment has increased astronomically to an unprecedented level while the number of underemployed hands continue to rise daily.
Before the pandemic, there have been concerns about the rising in the curve of poverty in the country. For example, the country was named poverty capital of the world after overtaking India in a “poverty relay match” conducted by the World Poverty Clock in 2018.
With the recent retrenchment and disengagement from both the government and private companies, the number of 92 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty has increased. This ought to guide the government in the formulation and implementation of policy like this.
Given the magnitude of corruption that has beclouded the downstream sector, it is crystal clear that no government will want to continue the payment of subsidy on petrol, but in doing this there is need to put into consideration the prevailing circumstances which seems to the lacuna in this case.
Though, the government claimed that the removal is for the benefit of the masses because most people that benefit much from the fuel subsidy are those that have cars, it failed to understand that any hike in the price of fuel will definitely affect the prices of goods and services across the country. In fact, it will affect the cost of running power generation, including the ones called “I better pass my neighbor” which gives relief to the masses suffering from the epileptic power supply.
Epileptic power supply has been one of the factors impeding development in Nigeria. The more money spent on it, the more it seems to be degenerating. That is why Nigerians are calling on the government to speedily fulfill all the promises reached at the negotiation table with organised labour so that the country will not move from frying pan to fire by toying with already tense and inflammable atmosphere created by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Femi Oluwasanmi, Ibafo, Ogun State.