President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May29, 2023, after his swearing in removed the petroleum subsidy. This, he announced during his inaugural speech that “Fuel subsidy is gone “and that there was no provision for it in the budget he inherited.” The out gone administration promised to build refineries and alleviate the sufferings of the people across the country but regrettably, that was not realised after eight years that the administration lasted. Fuel subsidy was a policy aimed at keeping the price of petrol low for consumers by paying the difference between the market price of the product and the regulated price to importers and marketers. Petroleum subsidy has remained a ding dong affair in the country, since 2015. In fact, it is believed among many Nigerians that it was what cost former president Goodluck Jonathan his re-election bid when a body identified as Save Nigeria Group campaigned at that time against subsidy removal. Although critics believe that while the subsidy lasted, it was unsustainable and prone to corruption. But the question is, considering the sufferings of Nigerians at the present time, was government not supposed to provide palliatives to cushion the negative impact that subsidy removal would have on the people? Already, the pump price has gone up astronomically. Some states are selling at #500 and #600 per litre, respectively, where it’s available.
This is because the pronouncement of the president, even though he retracted it, sent shock waves across the country that led to panic buying and hoarding of the product by the petroleum marketers. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), have consistently warned on the dangers of removing subsidy by the federal government without consulting with the critical stakeholders. “Subsidy can no longer justify its ever increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and job creation that will materially improve the lives of millions of Nigerians. So, it will not be a one-off response because organised labour are partners in progress, they need to sit down and discuss and agree before that is done to avoid industrial unrest'” Government must, as a matter of urgency, provide adequate palliatives and social safety valves for the poor and the vulnerable in the society. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who said he has come to govern and not to lord it over the people should at all times listen to the voice of the people. While we are not averse to policies of government that seek to plug loopholes which served as conduit pipes through which public funds are siphoned, government should also be mindful of the plight of the people before making pronouncements on issues such as the removal of fuel subsidy that has direct impact on the livelihood of the people. We call on the authority to move in immediately to ensure that the impact of the subsidy removal does not take the country back to where she was before the emergence of the new government. Already, there is hardship in the land. The citizens are fed up and would not want to be overburdened any longer under any guise.