By Bukola Olamona, Fisayo Akinduro & Oluwatosin Adeeyo
Financial experts and stakeholders in Nigeria have warned the Federal Government against poor implementation of the proposed fuel subsidy removal describing it as a time bomb.
The stakeholders told The Hope that total deregulation of the oil sector though would boost the nation’s economy, its poor implementation might be disastrous.
They however warned that deregulating the major contributor to the nation’s GDP at a time the country battles economic dilapidation would further deepen the hardship faced by the people and businesses.
Recently, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva disclosed that there was no going back on deregulation, saying that government could no longer rescind its decision.
Reacting, Ondo State Chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Sina Amao, warned that mismanagement of the deregulation could impoverish the people.
Amao stressed that deregulation would only be beneficial to both the country and its people when there are sound, viable and functional refineries, saying anything short of that would impoverish the citizens.
According to him, if refineries are working maximally, the products would be sold without considering the international price and benefits such as jobs, establishments, opportunities from foreign and local investors and expansion of various sub sectors in the industry will lead to more revenue for the country and her people.
On the negative side, he said labour as a union would face hell because its members with minimum wage would at the end of the month spend their salaries on energy.
Also, a financial expert, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, said no serious nation would remove subsidy when the economy of the nation rests squarely on revenue from oil.
“If we want to make it the major revenue of our economy, we would cut wastages, remove corruption. Then, whatever we make will be used to develop the country and the people. So that if the people will buy at higher price, there will be enough purchasing power,” he said.
While warning that the present deregulation arrangement of the FG only favours a few rich individuals and firms, he, however explained that it would pay off for the poor in the long run.
He charged the federal government to think of a lasting solution to the problem by looking for ways to rescue the economy from how it was being run with sincerity.
Also speaking, an Economic expert, Mr Babajide Ayeni also supported that the removal of fuel subsidy, it is long overdue, but not appropriate at this stage of the nation’s economy.
Ayeni said it would be inhumane and unjust if such recommendation is considered by Nigerian Governors Forum, when there’s no corresponding revenue by states and income by average Nigerians to cope with the fuel hike.
His words: “The issue of subsidy removal has become a national anthem and it’s long overdue. So, I’m not surprised when it was being proposed. However, we should ask ourselves the truth, can an average Nigerian afford it?
“Citizens are still complaining about the current price of fuel and its effect on the economy. Yet, nothing is being done, but to propose removal of subsidy.”
Ayeni stated that the prices of goods and commodities were already on the rise and Nigerians were lamenting the hardship brought by this, hence, it would be difficult for Nigerians to afford the proposed fuel price and may result into increased criminality.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), last week at its virtual meeting considered the report of a committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, and accepted its recommendation that backed full deregulation of petrol, and suggested that the pump price of the product should hover around N385 per litre.
The committee also recommended that the federal government should buy 113 buses to cushion the effects of the price increase.
El-Rufai’s six-man committee was set up early this year by the National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to look into the dwindling revenues of states and make recommendations to the council.