Home News News Analysis How FG is tackling fuel subsidy removal hardship

How FG is tackling fuel subsidy removal hardship

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The harsh effects of the fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians may be remarkably ameliorated in the months ahead following the Independence Day broadcast of President Bola Tinubu where he announced far reaching measures to bring relief to the populace.

Tackling the issue of wage award, which the labour unions have requested pending the outcome of a new minimum wage being negotiated, the President announced an approval of N35,000 addition to the monthly pay of every worker for the next six months.

More crucial to confronting the hardships occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy is transport fares, which have gone up by almost 100 per cent in many parts of the country, following the discontinuance of the fuel subsidy regime.

In the months ahead, the Federal Government said it would be deploying “cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation”.

These buses, which are to be charged at a fraction of the current fuel prices, are expected to remarkably bring down the transportation costs, a move economic watchers describe as a masterstroke in the move by the government to rejuvenate the economy.

To ensure the success of this scheme, CNG conversion kits will soon start arriving the country, while training facilities and workshops are to be set up immediately to provide new vista of opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.

It was also learnt that the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) may further be helping to ease transportation hardships through the donation of fleet of mass transit buses to the Federal Government.

When the association visited the President in Abuja 7th June, barely a week in the office, its Chairman, Dame Winifred Akpani disclosed to newsmen that DAPPMAN would be donating a fleet of mass transit buses to the Federal Government as a demonstration of the association’s support for the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry, and to help cushion the harsh effects of fuel subsidy removal.

Sources close to the association said that many of those buses would be delivered to the Federal Government in the weeks ahead.

Said a source: “The DAPPMAN initiative is a commendable one that will go a long way in practical terms to ease public transport problem in Nigeria. Now that they are about to deliver, one can only hope that other associations and interest groups will borrow a leaf from the association’s gesture which is aimed to bringing down the transport costs in Nigeria”.

To further bring succour to the poor, starting from this month, the Federal Government said it would extend the social safety net through the expansion of its cash transfer programme to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

In its June 2023 edition of the Nigerian Development Update, the World Bank disclosed that only about 19.4 per cent of Nigerians benefitted from the cash transfer scheme in the past year. With the World Bank estimating Nigeria’s population at 207 million, this meant that only about 40.21 million Nigerians benefitted from the scheme. From this month, the figure of beneficiaries is expected to rise to over 51 million mark, reaching about 25 per cent of the estimated over 200 million Nigerians.

An investment banker, Ahmed Hadi said: “This will be a good start to tackling poverty if the National Social Register comprising State Social Registers of Poor and Vulnerable Households is cleaned up and made to be a genuine list of this category of Nigerians. Given that the World Bank, in that report, indicated that about 40 percent of Nigerians lived on less than the national poverty line at the end of 2022, if the cash transfer programme of the present government can capture about 25 per cent of the vulnerable Nigerians on taking off, it will be a good way to start”.

The Tinubu administration seems to appreciate the fact that bailing the economy out of the challenges thrown up by the subsidy removal will require more than cash transfers to the vulnerable.

Real economic growth and poverty alleviation can only be achieved through production and employment generation. It is in this respect that the President, in his address to the nation, committed his government to providing investment funds for enterprises in order to boost employment and urban incomes. In the same vein, the government is increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Many Nigerians believe that, given the far reaching measures to tackle the fuel subsidy challenges as enunciated in the President’s Independence Day broadcast, labour union leaders may have good reasons to reconsider their planned indefinitely strike action, which is billed to commence on Tuesday.

Indeed, the President has extended the olive branch to the union leaders, giving indications that they earned his respect and he is ready to work with them.

He said: “I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organisations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect”.

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