It was on the 12th of March that Nigerians woke up to the news that government subsidy on petrol has been removed. Meaning from 87 Naira, fuel will now be selling at 145 Naira.
That Thursday morning, I was to have breakfast in a canteen down the road when I heard the news. At first, I didn't want to believe it. I had already heard the rumours as at two days earlier but considering the economic situation on ground, I refused to believe it. To me I was so sure no sensible person would try removing fuel subsidy at this time.
No. I was still managing the little conflict within, whether to believe the rumour or not until I got to my Bus stop. At the bus stop, when I couldn't find vehicles going to Victoria Island at the normal price, I realised the whole thing was true after all.
The fuel subsidy is gone. We are in for a big thing. At that point, I felt so hurt. I hated the government. Their action and everything. Not even Mr Kachikwu's explanations could change anything. Look at me. I was a student. I had barely a few bucks on me. Just overnight, the money I'd budget for a week will just fizzle out.
I was mad. I was angry that for months there have been queues and long queues yet no petrol all over the country. I was angry that our economy was going down and down by the day. I was angry that charges for government services including Power Supply have increased by over 40 percent recently yet supply only got worse. I was angry that government doesn't feel any bit of our pains.
Now they want to dish out N5,000 token to about 1million poor people as palliatives. Tell me, in a country where there are over 90 Million people earning less than 1 dollar a day according to UNICEF, how many people will have access to this money? Tell me, what happens to the rest of the people? Let's be sincere, Nigerians are not foolish. Subsidising fuel will not help this country in the long run. But removing fuel subsidy is not the right thing to do when the economy and every other sector is already looking south.
Considering the realities on ground, it doesn't just add up at this time. I've heard people calling the labour unions to press for increment in the monthly minimum wage from the current N18,500 which is now less than 100 Dollars, to about N48,000 instead of going on strike. To me this is unrealistic, unless President Buhari has a magic wand. Yes! And I believe every sensible person will ask this; if it was difficult to implement the 18,000 minimum wage in all states when crude oil was selling above 100 Dollars, is it now that Crude is selling for about 40 dollars that they will implement it?
By the way, as at 1st May, 2016; over 26 states were still owing government workers their salary according to Vanguard report. Some owing for as long as 5 months. Now tell me: how exactly will they pay up this debt and then implement the new minimum wage regime? How will these ones and their family survive this hardship? Politics aside, I don't care what anybody says. All I know is that you don't know exactly how it pinches, until you put on the shoe. People should quit telling me government feels our pain. They don't feel anything.
Removing fuel subsidy at this time is sending the poor barber, designer and welder out of business. Removing fuel subsidy is increasing the price of transport fare, basic commodities and foodstuffs in the markets. Removing fuel subsidy is increasing hardship and criminal activities in the land. Removing fuel subsidy is adding to the pains of ordinary Nigerians.
Trust me if your family can bear all this, so many other hapless Nigerians will struggle through pain and blood, to survive these times. Every government exists to protect the interest of its citizens. And you don't protect anybody's interest by increasing their pain. This policy at this time is anti-people. It must be reversed immediately. Victor Winners writes in from Lagos.
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