Dr. Philip Agbese, Deputy Spokesman of the House of Reps.
The organised labour was on Wednesday called on to embrace dialogue to resolve deadlock over the removal of subsidies on petrol in Nigeria. Dr. Philip Agbese, Deputy Spokesman of the House of Representatives, also representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, made this call while speaking to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.
He assured Nigerians that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s removal of fuel subsidy was in their best interest, even as he admitted that fuel subsidy had been a part of the nation since the 1970s, with the government routinely selling petrol to citizens at below cost to minimise the impact of rising global oil prices.
He noted that the outlay of subsidising petrol had ballooned over time, adding that the regime had made a few richer.
Agbese said available figures showed that the Buhari administration (2015 -2023) paid a subsidy of over N11.4 trillion, more than what the government spent on education, health, and infrastructure during the period under review.
Acknowledging that President Tinubu’s decision to end the regime had come with hardship, he reckoned that Nigerians would celebrate in the long run.
Agbese noted that fuel subsidy constituted 50 per cent of the nation’s problems, pointing out thet its termination would usher the country to its glorious era in history.
He, however, urged labour not to succumb to agents of destabilisation, assuring that the resources saved from the policy would be channelled to developmental programmes.
Said he: “President Tinubu must be commended for taking the bold step to save the future of our nation. Fuel subsidy was no longer attainable.
“It is on record that about N40.1 billion is spent daily to subsidise every liter of petrol consumed in Nigeria by at least N600. It means the government spends about N1.24 trillion on fuel subsidies monthly.
“The country is in massive debt and would need more money to subsidise fuel. According to the World Bank, the government is projected to achieve fiscal savings of approximately two trillion Naira ($2.6 billion) in 2023, equivalent to 0.9% of GDP. These savings are expected to reach over 11 trillion Naira ($14.3bn) by the end of 2025.
“This will be invested in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Indeed, the advantages of the removal of subsidy would not just come up immediately. It is not possible because the economy is not strong. We don’t have money to start implementing measures that will ameliorate the removal of the subsidy.
“However, we must look beyond the present. The future of our great nation is at stake. I want to commend President Tinubu for this brave decision. In a matter of time, Nigerians will smile.
“Let me also use this opportunity to appeal to the Organised Labour not to succumb to agents of destabilisation who want to pull us back. The issue of palliatives and better welfare for all citizens is paramount before the Asiwaju government.
“Our nation can not withstand another mass action. We are trying to build not destroy. The Labour should, therefore, give dialogue a chance and at least be patient with this administration. It is still early days”.