Africa’s most populous nation will be postponing the evil day if it does not resolve the issue of fuel subsidy removal, says the Nigeria Governors’Forum (NGF).
“Not tackling the problem now is tantamount to postponing the evil day. Finding succour for the ordinary Nigerian at this time is absolutely imperative and necessary now more than ever,” said the forum’s chairman Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti.
He stated this when he met with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership in Abuja.
Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the spokesman for NGF, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, saying that the meeting with NLC leadership led by its president Ayuba Wabba deliberated on the fuel subsidy removal was sequel to the NGF meeting of January 19 in Abuja.
The statement quoted Mr Fayemi saying that the nation’s economy was at the precipice and that it had become necessary for the NGF and organised the labour to verify the claim on fuel subsidy by the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC).
“Fayemi said that subsidy removal has remained an ongoing conversation not just among governors but the entire country. Hence the governors must be part of the solution providers,” added the statement. “This is because there are raging questions of accountability associated with the issue of subsidy removal in the country.”
The statement further stated that the NGF and the NLC could work together to proffer solutions to heal the economy and provide succour to the Nigerian people.
“Nigerian governors can not ignore the economics of petroleum. This is because all the countries surrounding Nigeria, including Niger, Mali, Cameroon, and Ghana, have their fuel pump price that is equivalent to a U.S. dollar, while Nigeria has a pump price that is far less than a dollar,” it added.
The NGF called for NLC partnership “to confront the challenges “of what the NNPC is about because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures.”
Mr Fayemi stressed that “we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy.”
He disclosed that only about eight states benefitted directly from the subsidy while others had to contend with the situation independently.
The governor insisted that the partnership with the NLC must confront the perennial issue of palliatives for the common man towards cushioning the effects of subsidy removal on the citizenry.
On Tuesday, President Muhammdu Buhari approved an 18-month suspension of the planned removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) products.
Petroleum minister Timipre Sylva disclosed this at a media briefing organised by the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja.
“We don’t intend to remove the subsidy now. That is why we are making this announcement,” Mr Sylva, who had earlier met behind closed doors with the president, said. “We are proposing an 18-month extension. But what the National Assembly is going to approve is up to them.”
According to Mr Sylva, arrangements have reached an advanced stage by the executive arm of government to propose to the National Assembly an 18-month extension to implement the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that was meant to kick-start in February.
“We also see the legal implication. There is a six-month provision in the PIA, which will expire in February, and that is why we are coming out to say that before the expiration of this time, as I said earlier, we will engage the legislature,” the minister explained. “We believe that this will go to the legislature; we are applying for amendment of the law so that we will still be within the law.”
On the possibility of a gradual increase in petrol price, the minister dismissed such plans, saying “that is not on the table as well. Gradual or increment in whatever guise is not on the table.