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Sunday, 03 December 2023 06:36

Subsidy removal: Hardship bites harder as Nigerians await palliatives

Six months after the Federal Government announced the removal of fuel subsidy, the hardship occasioned by that decision is yet to abate.

This is also as the citizens continue to await the palliatives promised by both the Federal Government and the various state governments.

While the Federal Government announced a N35,000 wage award, different state governments have also pledged sums ranging from N10,000 to N25,000.

 

The impact of the volatile exchange rate has also not helped the common masses.

DAILY POST reports that the prices of staple food items, transportation and other essential services have continued to skyrocket.

The government had promised to take critical steps, including rolling out Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, vehicles.

However, the citizens groan that none of the promises of the government has come to fruition.

Transportation

Due to the high cost of the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as petrol, transportation fare tripled across the country. With the petrol price hovering at about N600 to N650, there is no hope in sight that transport fare would come down anytime soon, a development that is eating deep into the pockets of the citizens.

President Bola Tinubu on August 1, revealed that his administration was making provision to invest N100 billion between to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater buses powered by CNG.

Tinubu, who spoke on the widespread economic strain that befell the country following the removal of the petrol subsidy, said his administration placed a high priority on enhancing welfare and living conditions of the citizens.

He said the FG approved infrastructure support fund for the states, and now plans to invest N100 billion in procuring CNG buses for mass transportation.

“This new infrastructure fund will enable states to intervene and invest in critical areas and bring relief to many of the pain points as well as revamp our decaying healthcare and educational infrastructure.

“The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets. With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians,” he said.

However, DAILY POST observed that commuting across the country is becoming more difficult as the transportation fare continues to skyrocket without any noticeable intervention by the government.

A taxi driver operating in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, Mr Jibila Audu told DAILY POST on Saturday that transportation fare would continue to soar if the price of fuel fails to come down soon.

According to him, despite tripling transport fare, “those in the business are still not making profit due to the cost of fuel.

“Life generally has not been easy for anybody since this government came in. Three days after the president took over power on May 29, everything changed. I was working with a construction company and doing very well before this government came in.

“Now this (taxi driving) is what I am doing to survive. And I can tell you that there is no gain in it. By the time you buy fuel for about N50,000 and it takes you only on a few trips, you will come back to realise you made no gain”, he lamented.

Cash transfer

The President had also in his maiden Independence Day broadcast to Nigerians on October 1, 2023, announced the cash transfer programme which, according to him, would target vulnerable citizens.

Thereafter, on October 17, he launched the distribution of the N25,000 per month to 15 million households.

The conditional cash transfer, according to the government, is one of 15 items in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and the Organised Labour on October 2, 2023.

Speaking on the situation, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo State and political analyst Adebayo Mathew told DAILY POST that the citizens were yet to receive any cash transfer from the FG.

“I am yet to see or hear of anyone who is benefiting from this cash transfer programme. I am beginning to see it as a scam.

“The level of poverty in the city is becoming something else and all our government can do is to be telling us promises.

“Right now, you can’t buy anything in the market, not even drugs. I’m talking of essential goods and services that nobody can survive without.

“When was the last time you heard people talking about launch? Anyone who can afford breakfast and dinner is obviously rich.

Majority of Nigerians survive on one meal per day. This is not what Nigerians bargained for. Yet some people are there buying exotic cars and only give fake promises to those who elected them”, Adebayo said.

Local refineries

Many have argued the refineries would have been fixed before the removal of subsidy. But the government has assured that the Port Harcourt refinery will commence operations by December 2023.

According to the federal government, the cost of petrol would drop when the local refinery finally commenced operation.

However, a cross section of Nigerians have expressed scepticism on the possibility of the refinery commencing operation in 2023, saying it could be a “mere promise as usual”.

Some Nigerians, who spoke with our correspondent, expressed pessimism, saying it is impossible for the refinery which is currently under rehabilitation to commence operation before the end of the year.

According to an On Air Personality working with Jordan FM Ushafa, Abuja, Mr Kelvin Adanu, “even if the refinery is commissioned this month, it will not produce anything.

“It is over a year now since former President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Dangote Refinery. Up till this last month of 2023, the refinery is still not working.

“We are used to all their lies. Moreover, it is not a guarantee that if the refinery begins to work, the price of fuel would come down. The best way to endure this government is not to expect anything. It is when expectations are not met that frustration comes in.”

But Comrade Jare Ajayi, the National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Worldwide told DAILY POST that Nigerians ought to remain hopeful and wait until the year ends.

“For us, we don’t want to say much on this yet. We are hopeful that the promise will be fulfilled before December 31. It is after that, we will issue a statement”, he said.

While urging the FG to stick to its deadline, Ajayi expressed confidence that the high cost of petrol which had led to the soaring price of commodities in the market would crash when the local refineries commence production.

[DailyPost]

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