Former Chairman, Governing Board of the Projects Development Institute, Enugu, and APC 2023 Senatorial Candidate for Benue South, Comrade Daniel Onjeh, has appealed to Nigerians to look beyond the immediate constraints which the removal of fuel subsidy is impacting on the populace and rather, rally support for President Tinubu’s policy of total deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
In a press statement issued today, Onjeh stated that the good intentions of the Federal Government for introducing fuel subsidy ab initio had long been betrayed by the powerful and greedy cartel that was using the policy as a conduit pipe to siphon the collective wealth of the nation. Therefore, fuel subsidy removal was a bitter pill that Nigerians had to swallow someday, somehow, in order to set the economy on a good course; and President Tinubu had demonstrated the political will, courage and determination to finally free Nigeria from the shackles of fuel subsidy, by announcing its total removal on his first day in office.
The statement added that the bold and auspicious step taken by President Tinubu on fuel subsidy removal would secure the future of generations of Nigerians yet unborn; hence all well-meaning Nigerians should rally round President Tinubu to ensure the success of the fuel subsidy removal policy, as well as other laudable policies of the Administration.
Comrade Onjeh, who is an Economist, pro-development activist and former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), also stated that every well-informed and honest Nigerian knows that the debate over fuel subsidy in the country had long been concluded, and the final verdict had been that the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) would impact the nation’s cash flow positively in the long run. He added that although the Federal Government had long removed subsidy on Diesel and Kerosene, the previous administrations had been unable to muster the courage and political will to remove subsidy on PMS otherwise called petrol, because they were afraid to face the backlash from Nigerians. However, President Tinubu had taken the bull by the horns.
Onjeh therefore applauded President Tinubu’s rare courage, which he said was akin to that of Lee Kuan Yew who brought Singapore out of the woods of underdevelopment; adding that Nigeria required a bold and courageous leader like Tinubu in order to right the wrongs of the past and reposition the nation for a more prosperous future.
“With the courage that Mr. President has demonstrated by the removal of fuel subsidy, we can be certain that he would not adopt a cowardly approach to the war against insecurity and other threats to the sovereignty, unity, peace and progress of Nigeria. President Tinubu will tackle terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and all other forms of insecurity squarely,” stated Onjeh.
Onjeh noted that there was no denying the fact that Nigerians were facing a tough time generally due to the decline in the national economy, a situation exacerbated by the sudden removal of fuel subsidy. He however opined that President Tinubu was the right man to lead Nigeria through this crucial period of social and economic reforms, hence urged all Nigerians to keep faith with the President and to give him their unalloyed support to achieve the salient goals of his Renewed Hope Agenda.
“Fuel subsidy removal should be embraced by all Nigerians like the slow, painful but necessary process of child birth. If successful, its outcome would bring much relief and joy to all citizens that would compensate for all the pains and discomfort that the policy may be putting us through at the moment,” read the statement.
Comrade Onjeh observed that rather than criticizing the laudable policy of fuel subsidy removal, the citizenry should be focused on making practicable suggestions on the palliatives that the Federal Government can rollout to cushion the immediate adverse effects of the policy pending when our economy stabilizes; when Nigeria would have fixed its moribund refineries and constructed new ones, and the largest refinery in the world being constructed by Alike Dangote in Lagos State, eventually comes on stream.
“Indeed, the full deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector will encourage healthy market competition and improved efficiency in the nation’s oil sector. This will enable the forces of Demand and Supply to determine the pricing mechanism and in the end, the prices of petroleum products will crash across the country, just as the deregulation of the telecommunications industry resulted in the crash of the cost of GSM lines,”
“Currently, our local refining capacity is nothing to write home about. So Nigeria is competing with the international energy market and our national currency, the Naira, is very weak compared to the Dollar. That’s the reason for the current high costs of fuel; it’s not that President Tinubu had introduced a draconian or defective policy, as some persons with narrow interests are trying to portray to the unsuspecting public,” noted Onjeh.
Onjeh commended the Federal Government for its promise to judiciously utilize the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy towards impacting the lives of all Nigerians, especially the lower income earners. He applauded Government’s move to promptly release fertilizers and grains to about 50 million farmers and households across Nigeria, as well as the Conditional Cash Transfers to 12 million of the poorest households in the country. Onjeh noted that in addition, the Federal Government may consider reducing or eliminating the import tariffs on imported medical equipment and pharmaceutical products; agricultural and farm machinery, implements and inputs; and books/ educational materials, to make life more bearable for the citizens.