As the Organized Labour and civil society organizations warm up for a nationwide strike over a raise in petrol pump price from N148 to N161 per litre, the Presidency said on Sunday that the removal of subsidy is long overdue.
Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and CSOs have threatened to embark on a countywide protest this week to pressure government to reverse it.
Persecondnews recalls that the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to power in 2015 defeating an incumbent PDP administration riding on the crest of citizens’ goodwill and very high expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the move was to stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others.
It said the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices are tough decisions the Buhari administration had to make to deliver dividends of democracy.
“The current administration is facing multiple challenges along with COVID-19, which include low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but that a good government must take decisions for the people’s good.
“Five years on, the administration has worked hard to meet many expectations, but still, there are certain tough decisions which had to be taken to put back the country on the path of sustainable development.
“To stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others, the administration took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices.
“Subsidy removal in these sectors had long been foreseen by successive administrations as game changers in search of solutions to move forward with the nation’s development.
“These are reforms that are necessary and overdue. Blueprint upon blueprint, timeline upon timeline had come and gone but courage to take bold decisions was not there.
“Over the last few days, one claim acquiring a potent resonance with the online community, sections of the labour movement and the opposition is that the actions are ill-timed and ill-advised.
“There is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good,” the statement said.
It said the difficult decisions, both popular and unpopular and as a leader, Buhari “is demonstrating the right courage to take such decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.”
“History will be kind to President Buhari because in addition to his amazing ability to command votes, he will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating the evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.
“In any democracy, the most important certificate in governance is acceptance by the people and, with the support of ordinary Nigerians, President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as these ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
” In carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups.
“In these challenging times, the President is pushing development goals not politics, and history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the opposition,” the statement said.