April 21, 2024

Subsidy removal: 9 months after, where is the money? Nigerians cry out!


Adebayo Obajemu

In the midst of increasing hunger, hardships and hopelessness which many Nigerians have attributed to the May 2023 removal of subsidy on fuel, Nigerians are increasingly worried that nine months after the stoppage of the subsidy, their lot is getting worse instead of getting better.
They are asking questions about the whereabouts of the money saved from the removal of subsidy.

These worries are even becoming louder as a result of admission of many state officials at federal, state and local government levels about increased liquidity, which ironically has not translated into better life for ordinary Nigerians.

Only recently, the Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, revealed in a recent television interview (TVC) that fuel subsidy removal is reflected in their state allocations, and they now have a “surplus of money,” therefore, his fellow state governments should give an account of what they have done with the money.

He said that he was able to pay pensioners, death benefits and gratuities worth about N3.5 billion. He was also able to help smallholder farmers and small and medium-scale enterprises by distributing N4.3 billion among them. However, one thing the governor said that made absolute sense is that Nigerians should spread their blame, instead of heaping everything on President Bola Tinubu. He explained, “Everyone in Nigeria that is blaming the President, for me, is missing the point. Government is about local governments, state governments and the federal government…”

Two weeks ago, a former local government chairman of the Ungogo Local Government Area of Kano State revealed on a live programme, on Human Rights FM 101.1, Abuja, that when the FG removed subsidy on petrol, his LG monthly allocation rose from N250 million to N950 million, but the state governor, who collects them from Abuja, never approved even a million for any project in Ungogo.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu during a nationwide broadcast on 31st July 2023 said N1trillion had been saved from fuel subsidy in two months, which means the Government has saved over N4trillion from subsidy in the last nine months from subsidy.

Abdullah Adamu, a political science graduate who has not been able to find a job two years after graduation told EnergyDay that , ” I keep wondering when our “mumu” will get to the limits. These so – called leaders from president to governors and National Assembly members are thieves. What has happened to the gains of the fuel subsidy removal? Nigerians are getting poorer, while the state governors and the presidency have had access to more money which they keep for themselves instead of using it to provide infrastructure, education, transportation and healthcare. I will not blame them, it’s precisely because we allow them.”
This view was shared by Adewale Oni, a business man who wondered why ” the presidency continues to bask in sophistry and rhetoric about being patient. What has happened to the additional money, huge funds saved from subsidy removal? These people are just playing games with the destiny of Nigerians! Why are they not using the money to cushion the effects of subsidy removal?”

How much has the FG saved from subsidy removal since June last year till date?

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has challenged the federal government to open their books and show Nigerians how much has been saved from subsidy in the last nine months, urging the presidency to wake up from politicking.

The Chairman of TUC in Rivers State, Comrade Ikechukwu Onyefuru noted that the government last year announced that N400billion was saved monthly from fuel subsidy,

“If we judge them by their own words, N400billion multiply by nine months is over N3.6trillion, so where is the money? How and where is the money being applied? Is it on the health sector or road infrastructure? I challenge you journalists to ask the Government where they’ve applied the fuel subsidy savings.

“Nigerians should not expect any miracle, even if the refineries start working today. Where will they get crude oil from? Dangote refinery is going to US to import crude oil. The government should wake up. They should know we’re no longer in campaign period. Ukraine, a country at war, is today supplying grains to Nigeria because there is hunger in the land.

“Politics is different from governance. We should tell ourselves the truth, we must put square pegs in square holes. Technocrats should be appointed into sensitive offices like CBN, we have qualified hands everywhere. Go outside the country, Nigerians are doing great, why can’t we get the right people to run the affairs of our country?

“The cost of governance gets me angry. Until we remove tribal sentiments and political settlement, good governance will elude us. The government owe us a duty to give us good governance.”

Similarly , an industry analyst, environmentalist and social commentator, Mr Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said the government that must have saved over N4 trillion as at March 2024, owing to the series of announcements by the federal government on fuel subsidy savings.

“In November 2023, the federal government said they had saved N1.45trillion between June and September, which is three months. Thus, if N1.45trillion is saved every three months, then, by March 2024, the government should have saved and be in possession of at least N4.4trillion.

“More so, in January 2024, the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Task Reforms Committee, through its chairman, Taiwo Oyedele, said the federal government has saved N8trillion under the President Tinubu administration from subsidy. Thus, the government has made some good savings and is in possession of some good amount of money that is relatively sufficient for use to address issues relating to subsidy removal raised by Labour to ameliorate the sufferings of the people and avert incessant strike actions by the organized labour.”

Fyneface who is also the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, noted that it was recently reported that the government was supporting each states by allocating more funds to state governors to cushion the biting hardship in the country.

“In terms of possible usage of the subsidy savings, a report was received in the media about how the federal government was supporting each state with N5 billion, and also plans to transfer N8,000 to 12 million poor households for six months, and sharing more money as federal allocation to states and council areas monthly while keeping the rest in their coffers, among others.”

Government should come clean on the amount saved and modalities for poverty and hunger reduction.

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