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Remove Subsidy, Increase Fuel Price –IMF Tells FG …Finance Minister, NLC, NUPENG Kick

Many Nigerians are yet to forget the horrible experience of 2012. A year Nigerians were given the most unpleasant gift at the eve of a new year by a government they overwhelmingly voted for less than ten months earlier and barely after seven months of its inauguration. On the first of January, 2012 Nigerians woke up to the news that the price of petroleum has been increased from N65 to N141 by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government. On the second of January, Nigerians in hundreds of thousands across different states of the federation began a peaceful protest.

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A car refuelling at a petrol station

To put an end to the evil price regime, the peaceful protest recorded casualties in the hands of members of the Nigerian Police. Prominent among those killed were Muyideen Mustapha, a 23-year-old man who lives in Ilorin, Kwara state. He was killed on the 3rd January 2012 and was buried on the 4th January 2012 according to Islamic rites. Ademola Aderinde was another causality. He was killed by a Divisional Police Officer DPO in Ogba, Lagos state on the 9th January 2012.

This ugly episode might be a déjà-vu as the federal government is set to once again increase the price of fuel which will eventually lead to unprecedented hardship in the land. Nigerians naturally will protest against this draconian policy. The need to remove subsidy and increase fuel price was championed by the IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde at a world press conference at a sprint meeting with the World Bank in Washington DC. In the words of Christine Lagarde: “I will give you the general principle. For various reasons and as a general principle. We believe that removing fuel subsidies is the right way to go. If you look at our numbers from 2016 it is no less than $5.2 trillion (five point two trillion dollars) spent on fuel subsidies and the consequences thereof. The fiscal affairs department has actually identified how much would have been saved fiscally but also in terms of human lives.”

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Congestion of cars for fuel (File photo)

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed while fielding questions from journalists on fuel subsidy removal she has this to say: “To the IMF, we just came out of the article VI review. The review was a positive one and I had good advice from the IMF to Nigeria and they have indicated that they are available to provide technical support to improve our liquidity management. Our debt management and other fiscal measures. The advice of the IMF on fuel subsidy removal is good. We have to implement it in a manner that is both successful and sustainable. We are not in a situation to wake up one day and just remove it. We have to educate our people we have to show Nigerians what the replacement of the subsidies will be.”

The Nigerian Labour Congress NLC made this statement through its national President Comrade Ayuba Wabba: “We wish to caution the government against contemplating any further increase in the price of refined petroleum products. Especially the Premium Motor Spirit PMS. We understand that the IMF has advised the federal government to remove the so-called petroleum subsidy which is a euphemism for the increase in the pump price of petroleum. This advice is ill-willed and completely insensitive to the suffering of Nigerians.”

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Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC President

Nigerian Union Of Petroleum And Natural Gas Workers NUPENG through its President Williams – Akporeha said: “If the federal government heeds the advice of the International Monetary Funds IMF that Nigeria should remove subsidy on petroleum products, it would destabilise the economy.” Is Nigeria about to have a repeat of the 2012 episode? Only time will tell.