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On the proposed removal of fuel subsidy

By Henry Ndukuba
20 March 2022   |   4:07 am
Most Nigerians greeted the announcement of the proposed fuel subsidy removal with deep concerns because it spelt a bleak future for people already overburdened with a very high cost of living.

Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba (second left); and wife, Angela at the Church of Nigeria Standing Committee hosted by Evo Diocese in Port Harcourt, Rivers State

Most Nigerians greeted the announcement of the proposed fuel subsidy removal with deep concerns because it spelt a bleak future for people already overburdened with a very high cost of living.

No doubt, the cost of fuel subsidy to the Nigerian economy is humongous and unsustainable. According to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the nation spends about N120 billion every month on fuel subsidies. It is also recorded that a whopping $4.5b was the cost for fuel subsidies in 2021. It is sad to note that the three trillion-subsidy bill, which the Federal Government submitted to the Federal Executive Council represents a further increase from the expenditure on this item in 2021. Worse still, no one seems sure of the exact quantity of fuel consumed by Nigerians.

These notwithstanding, the removal of subsidies at this time would portend untold hardship for millions of Nigerians, especially those in the middle and low-income brackets. It will surely drive up the cost of fuel, which will lead to an increase in transportation fares, increased inflation rates, reduced purchasing power and a surge in poverty. Subsidy removal in our view will throw more Nigerians below the poverty line and further reinforce our unenviable status of being the poverty capital of the world.

We, therefore, commend the wisdom of Mr. President in suspending the subsidy removal at this critical time because of the attendant inflationary implications and the severe hardship on millions of Nigerians.

We further challenge the Federal Government to show greater political will towards rehabilitating our moribund refineries to enable them refine the crude into Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), diesel and kerosene, and thereby stop importation of these products and the drain on our foreign reserves by these importations.

In addition, we urge government to create more sustainable alternatives like improved and cheap electricity supply, which will reduce the use of generators by households and companies. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is also an alternative that is less expensive than PMS and more environment-friendly. All energy options must be explored.

We believe the time has come for our government to prioritise a shift to clean energy resources, especially in the face of global withdrawal from fossil fuels. Though endemic corruption has killed our refineries, Nigeria has the capacity to refine our crude oil and export the product. The privatisation of these refineries may be a lesser evil that may help our nation in this challenging time. The modalities for setting up Modular Refineries need to be explored, approved and implemented throughout the country. This will instantly produce the fuel we need and leave us more for export.

Let the truth be told, the imbalance in our economic and industrial policies have already sold this country to the rich and powerful few. Mafias and powerful cabals have taken over the control of our resources and lives of this great nation. Our prayer is that God will: “bless and guide our rulers; give wisdom to all in authority, and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace; that people may honour one another and seek the common good,” Church of Nigeria Book of Common Prayers, 179)

• Culled by The Ven. (Dr.) Princewill Ireoba from the Primate’s address of His Grace, the Most Rev. (Dr.) Henry C. Ndukuba, the Primate of All Nigeria, to the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Rumuobiokani, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.