…As FG moves to suspend removal of fuel subsidy
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has urged the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to abort the planned protests against the Federal government’s proposed removal of fuel subsidy, saying the move is “totally unnecessary”.
Lawan made the appeal on Monday when he met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.
Those at the meeting include the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi and the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Also present were the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authourity, Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and Commissioned Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe.
Others are the Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Habib Nuhu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Shehu Shinkafi, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.
The Senate President, in his opening remarks at the meeting, faulted the timing for the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
He stated that in as much as the administration and management of subsidy on petroleum products are flawed, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government believes that sufficient planning must be carried out before its eventual removal.
Lawan, therefore, called on Labour unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union to shelve the planned protest rallies, adding that the Federal Government has no plan of removing the petroleum subsidy now.
He said, “The position of everyone in government today is that admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons.
“Admittedly, the burden is huge and massive and there is need at one point to do away with the subsidy.
“Even though our economy is growing, we still have the challenge of getting things to be better for our people.
“A lot of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care, especially that sufficient planning needs to be done.
“Significant arrangements for absorbing the shocks that will come with the removal should be done, that the timing should be such that the impact and consequences will not add to hardship. We all believe in this and Mr. President leads us in this feeling.
“What we are saying is that this is not the time. All of us are of the same opinion and, therefore, there is nothing like confusion or lack of understanding within the government circle.
“We all agree that the subsidy is abused and, therefore, it is a challenge to us as an administration to deal with the abuse, to find appropriate means of stopping it.
“After this meeting, there will be other ones, all in search of ways and means of ensuring that the ordinary Nigerian does not suffer any hardship, that when the subsidy will be removed eventually, it would be at such a point that the hardship will be very minimal and taken care of by several programmes.
“It is not about NLC, we are talking about every Nigerian. We are concerned beyond the Nigerian Labour Congress.
“I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the TUC and NLC to shelve this plan to go on strike or demonstration, it is totally unnecessary.
“There is not going to be removal of subsidy, so there is no need for this. Please, let’s not create unnecessary tension where there should be none.
“I appeal to them using this medium, to please forget about this January 27, 2022, deadline because there is no need for any deadline.
“We are supposed to come together and work assiduously to ensure that our country is stable, and our people enjoy the benefits of government programmes and projects, and that whatever decision would be taken will be in the best interest of our people and protecting the most vulnerable amongst us.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab, in her remarks, said that the Federal Government made provisions for subsidy in the 2022 budget from January to June this year.
According to her, all payments on fuel subsidy ordinarily would cease as from July, 2022.
She observed that in view of the timing which is “problematic”, the Federal decided to suspend its plan to go ahead with the removal of subsidy on petroleum products in July, particularly against the backdrop of outcomes from ongoing consultations.
She added that the Federal Government is presently exploring alternatives to premium motor spirit as well as pushing to step-up the country’s crude oil refining capacity.
Ahmed disclosed that efforts are also underway by the Executive arm of government to forward a request to the National Assembly to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July this year till a time deemed appropriate for its eventual removal.
“Let me start by stating the fact that we did make a provision in the 2022 budget for fuel subsidy from January to June. And that suggests that from July there would be no fuel subsidy.
“This provision was made sequel to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act that has made a provision that all products will be deregulated.
“Subsequent to the passage of the Act, we went back an amended the Fiscal Framework that was submitted to the National Assembly to incorporate this demand, but after the budget was passed we have had consultations with a number of stakeholders.
“It became clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation, and also removal of subsidy will further worsen the situation, thereby, imposing more difficulties on the citizens, and Mr. President clearly does not want to do that.
“What we have to do now is to continue with the discussions we are making, in terms of putting in place a number of measures, one of which is the deployment of an alternative to the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and also the roll out of enhanced refining capacity in the country, including the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery and also the rehabilitation of the four national refineries that have a combined capacity of 450,000 barrels per day.
“The increased refining capacity in the country means we will need to import less products. But also as we are discussing right now within the Executive the possibility of amending the budget, we may need to come back to the National Assembly by way of amendment to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July, 2022, going forward, or to whatever period that is agreed as the right time.
“Also, while we are exploring ways and means through discussion with various stakeholders in the executive as well as the Civil Societies and Labour Unions to explore ways by which we can address this removal in a manner that is graduated and will have as minimal impact on the citizens as possible.
“So, we will come back to make further amendments on the fiscal framework as well as in the 2022 budget.”
Akpabio’s Comment On N30bn To Govs Misconstrued – Eyiboh
Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s statement that Governors recently received N30billion from the federal government to cushion the effects of hardship was misconstrued, his spokesman, Hon Eseme Eyiboh has said.
Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom) denied receiving such amounts.
Eyiboh, in a statement in Abuja, said the Senate President holds Governors in high esteem.
He said Akpabio urged the “sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.”
The statement reads: “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.
“During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about N30billion to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.
“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted.
“In considering the well-intended motive of urging State Governments to collaborate with the Federal Government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.
“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that State governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu and are also valuable stakeholders in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.
“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance.
“He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.
“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”
Hardship: Afenifere Begs Yoruba Race Not To Join Protest Against Tinubu
The leader of the Pan Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has appealed to Nigerians, especially from the South West states, against the planned nationwide protest against President Bola Tinubu-led federal government amid the hardship Nigerians are currently experiencing.
Fasoranti who made this appeal, in a statement personally signed by him, lamented over the current economic crisis in the country, describing it as unfortunate, and urging Nigerians to endure the hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity.
The Afenifere leader said, “As the National Leader of Afenifere, and leader of the Yoruba, I address all and sundry today with a deep understanding of the challenges our dear country is going through at this critical time. The outcry over the hardship, hunger, and price hikes is not unexpected.
“However, we must come to terms with the realities of our national challenges, which the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is striving to resolve.
“While acknowledging the hardships faced by our people, it is important to recognize that these economic measures, although difficult, are part of a larger strategy aimed at restoring economic prosperity and stability to Nigeria.
“The government’s commitment to implementing these measures is a testament to its dedication to addressing the root causes of our economic challenges, inherited from the ills of the previous years”
He said “As a responsible leader, I appeal to every Yoruba man and woman, young and old, and our fellow citizens across the nationalities, to exercise patience and refrain from engaging in protests or actions that may escalate tensions.
“Understandably, the immediate impact of Tinubu’s economic reforms is challenging to everyone, but it is crucial to give the government the necessary time to realize the intended benefits”
Attributing the current economic hardship to the removal of fuel subsidy and has done great damage to the nation’s economy, saying “It is important to note that the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the Naira is not undertaken lightly, as we all know the great damage done to our national prosperity through the nefarious activities of the agents of darkness within the oil and financial sectors.
“These measures by the Federal Government, though painful in the short term, are designed to create a more sustainable economic environment that will benefit us all in the long run. It requires collective understanding and resilience from every citizen as we navigate through these challenging times.
“We cannot afford a preference for the euthanasic approach of painless death of our nation, where we are propped up with loans and subsidies until a total collapse into a failed nation, while we have the opportunity of painful healing through treatment with multiple surgeries that will guarantee not just our survival, but restored health, vigor, and thriving life. We must endure today’s hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity”
He, however, appealed to Nigerians to give Tinubu more time and engage in constructive criticism that can contribute towards the development of the country.
“I implore you to trust in the government’s commitment to the welfare of our nation. Let us engage in constructive dialogue and contribute positively to the ongoing economic reforms.
“Join me in appealing for unity and understanding among our people. Together, we can weather this storm and emerge stronger as a nation.
“I want to assure you as the Leader of Afenifere, that we are actively engaging with the government at different levels to address the concerns of our people. Let us remain steadfast, patient, and united in the face of these challenges, confident that our collective resilience will pave the way for a more prosperous future”
Recall that last Thursday, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the president-general of Ohanaeze, similarly appealed to the Igbo groups not to protest against the administration of President Bola Tinubu.
The Ohanaeze in a communique issued after an emergency meeting asked the people of the southeast to “invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness and hard work” during the period of economic hardship.
The group urged south-east governors and traditional rulers to take “advantage of the upcoming farming season to catalyze massive agricultural production for sustainable food security” in the zone.
Ohanaeze added that since the apex court in the country has ruled on the 2023 presidential election, the group has decided to support the administration of Tinubu.
“We reviewed with intense passion, the level of unemployment, poverty, hardships, especially the rising cost of goods and services in Nigeria, the rate of depreciation of Nigerian currency, and the excruciating effect on the masses; and reminded Ndigbo that they should quickly readjust themselves to the reality of the times and that the Igbo have passed through the worst of conditions in the past,” the communique reads.
“There is no better time than now to invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness, hard work, ingenuity, wisdom, resilience, inventiveness, perseverance, and capacity to turn adversities into diverse opportunities
FG To Implement Oronsaye Report
..To Scrap Many Agencies, Merge Others
In a landmark decision, President Bola Tinubu has approved the implementation of the age-long Oronsanye report.
This is one of the decisions taken at this Monday’s meeting of the federal executive council, at the state house.
The report submitted by the Oronsanye committee under the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2012 has endured successive administrations without implementation.
By Implication, some federal agencies would either be scrapped, merged or relocated.
A committee to be headed by the Secretary to the Government of the federation is to work out the modalities for implementation.
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