March 2, 2024

Residents of Ilorin, Kwara State capital have continued to react to the socio-economic hardships triggered by the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.

While some residents commended the federal government for the removal of the fuel subsidy, others described the implementation as ill-planned and untimely.

Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Kwara State chapter, Murtala Saheed Olayinka, said “the government had no option but to do what it did as it would be difficult for it to carry out proper and effective governance without it.

“A set of the cabal were feeding fat on the resources of the country, while a majority of the masses were suffering as a result, so the step taken by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a right step in the right direction,” the labour leader added.

On the multi-billion naira palliative programme of the state government for its citizens and workers, Murtala described it as a welcome development, saying it represents a temporary measure to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

In his reaction, Professor Hassan Salihu of the Political Science Department, University of Ilorin, said, judging by the general trend of hardships and sufferings that has trailed the removal of subsidies on petrol or gasoline or even PMS in Nigeria, it is evident that not much preparation was made before the eventual removal of the subsidies.

”However, since it has been done, I will urge the government to see the level of sufferings in the land as an emergency that needs to be adequately addressed.

“My advice is enough of the textbook approach to managing our economy or the orthodoxy being championed by the Bretton Woods institutions.

“The layers being anticipated by the government for cushioning the effects of the policy may not be ideal, judging by our recent experience with the Covid-19 palliatives.

“Neither will the cash transfer that is being proposed a solution. A heavy level of investment in pro-poor goods and services is the direction to go.

“People have talked about mass transit and the release of more food items from government storage and perhaps giving more powers to the consumer protection agency of government to stabilize prices of goods and services.”

Professor Hassan explained that anything short of massive intervention in the provision of goods and services may not see Nigeria out of the problems so soon.

Professor Yomi Omoteso, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, described the removal of the fuel subsidy as a necessary action.

He said “it might bring some short-run hardships but in the long term, it would improve the lot of us all especially if the savings are invested into productive activities such as agriculture and infrastructure improvement.

Also reacting, the Dean of Students Affairs, Federal Polytechnic, Offa, in Kwara State, Dr Waheed Balogun, described the fuel subsidy removal as a laudable policy “considering the situations Nigeria finds itself.

He, however, criticised the timing and methods of implementation as absurd, considering the plights of the ordinary Nigerians, adding that “one would have expected the government to have the horse before the cart and not vice versa.”

Dr Balogun said, “Introducing the removal without any meaningful palliative in place, that could ameliorate the untold hardships being meted out to ordinary Nigerians is anti-climax and an acrobatic policy capable of portraying the government of President Bola Tinubu in a bad light.

He urged the government to expedite action in its approach to governance by being more realistic and responsive to the yearnings of ordinary and common Nigerians.

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