By METROWATCH Reporter
President Bola Tinubu has directed the National Economic Council (NEC) led by Vice President Kashim Shettima to kickstart the process of working on interventions to ameliorate the impact of subsidy removal on the people.
This was disclosed by Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, while briefing State House Correspondents after leading some major oil marketers on a courtesy call on President Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
According to him, the marketers were in the presidential Villa to express solidarity with the President for his bold decision to end subsidy payment.
Tinubu’s action, he said, shows his determination and courage to remove the hermorage that had bedeviled the country for decades.
Abiodun admitted that while there would be some discomfort on the part of the people, the move would eventually pay off noting that there can’t be gains without pains.
The marketers announced their intention to donate 50 to 100 mass transit (at the cost of about N100 million each) buses as a way to support the initiative to succeed, calling on other well meaning corporate bodies can do the same.
The Governor of Ogun State stressed that any actions taken, such as increase in minimum wage, transportation allowances, or intervention programmes, will only serve as temporary solutions. He added that the real solution lies in transitioning to clean energy for the entire country.
According to him, Diesel and petrol-powered vehicles are no longer feasible, adding that Nigeria should follow the example of other countries, such as Egypt, where mass transit runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), and some vehicles run on electricity.
“These will be what will be sustainable that will allow us to transport people, goods and services at prices that are reasonable. That is the kind of thing that we are looking at, the kind of discussions that we’re having with Mr President and the kind of approach that this administration is looking at in terms of sustainability.”
Governor Abiodun noted that some states have already introduced some interventions including reducing working days, assuring that the subsidy removal would make more money available to them through the Federation Account Allocation Commission (FAAC).
The Chairman Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMAN), and the Managing Director of Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, Winifred Akpani, said this is an opportunity they have waited for a long time and praised President Tinubu for having the courage and boldness to implement this.
“That is born out of the fact that we have desired, we have prayed for this day to come. And we’re happy that the day is finally here,” she added.
While noting that the removal of subsidy is not about making transportation more expensive, Akpani noted that it was to reposition the country.
She noted that Nigeria has been feeding the whole of Sub Saharan Africa, with her fuel. Adding that since the pronouncement, the prices of fuel in all the neighbouring countries have shot up with only Niger Republic selling the cheapest at about N580 per liter because “they were all feeding on Nigeria’s fuel.”
On the donation of the mass transit buses she said: “And we all collectively agreed that we’re going to work at providing real mass transit buses that work, the ones that run on CNG, which is a compressed natural gas and diesel interchangeably, and hopefully we’re going to start with about 50 to 100. And that is in the very, very short term and these are locally produced.
“So, you see that we’re also providing jobs, a lot more jobs because we’re using local assembling plants, we are not importing this. That is less pressure on our foreign exchange, and that’s more jobs for Nigerians.
“Mr President was very happy with that. And we’re really relieved and we thank the President because he has a perfect understanding of a lot of the issues. I guess we’re not surprised but we were almost amazed to use that word.
“He asked all the right questions and he pointed to who could solve this problem and that problem. So like I said, we’re really, really grateful that we’ve had this interaction, and we’ll take it from there. And hopefully, everybody here and Nigerians at large will begin to see that even if this sounded very difficult, it’s a very, very good move, and very courageous.
“We’ve been trying to do this for so many years. No president has had the courage to do this. But now we’ll have to face it and like we said, support is what is required now to see this through.”