In the past 2 weeks, all that has filled our airwaves, media and social networks has been the raging issue of fuel subsidy withdrawal. The debates for and against are ever on-going, with those against unarguably being the larger numbers. Personally, I started by being vehemently against its removal as indicated in in this October blog post of mine. After reading endless articles and engaging in debates about it, offline and online, I somewhat shifted ground a bit in my next article about it. I gradually shifted to being somewhat for it, this article by Sanusi Lamido finally got me convinced about supporting the withdrawal. The article answered for me all my questions and reservations. My main bone of contention is the timing of the withdrawal, as January is the worst month to do so. Families are coming from Christmas spending, and thinking about paying for school fees, and now, they have to face price hikes almost across board. The earlier agreed date would have been much better. This is not to say that this removal would not have brought about such opposition, because any tampering with fuel price is always unpopular. The concerns of those against it are very legitimate:
Widespread poverty, endemic corruption in the system, it being the only welfare people receive from their wealth. This is also because NLC as a body is opposed to any price hike from an ideological perspective. Fast forward to today, and after endless negotiations, the Federal Government has shifted ground and has pegged the price at N97/litre. Not only that, the Ministry of Petroleum has also announced moves to probe the importations and allegations of corruption, as well as pressure the National Assembly to pass the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill. Not only that, the President and cabinet is now making cuts in their pay, starting from a 25% cut in salaries, though tiny considering that allowances are the bulk of the pay, it is a start nonetheless. This represents a victory. From day one, I realized that 65/litre as an official price is gone forever. Not only that, it takes someone who is either very sure of what he is doing or totally devoid of wisdom and leadership skills to look at the strong opposition to such policy move and still go on with it. I would like to give the President the benefit of doubt that he belongs to the first group, knowing the catastrophic effect this would have on Nigeria should this fail.