Spirit (petrol) is a burden that must be lifted off the shoulder of the
government, but in doing this, there is need to take into cognisance
the welfare of the people and the prevailing circumstances which have
continue to generate concerns as the nation forge ahead on the path of
full deregulation of the downstream sector.
Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had on 2nd September,
2020, announced the increase in the price of fuel from 148 – 151.56k.
This was hinged on the deregulation directive of the government issued
But looking at its impact on the standard of living of workers and
Nigerians in general, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union
Congress (TUC) decided to champion an industrial action which was
suspended at the eleventh hour to it’s manifestation due to the
palliatives promised by the government after series of meetings that
also birthed the reversal of the electricity tariff hike on 27th
Before then, the NLC, TUC and more 79 civil society groups had been
threatening to replicate the kind of drama that greeted the President
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration move to remove the subsidy in
2012, if the government fails to reverse the hikes on the electricity
tariff and pump price announced on 1st and 2nd September, respectfully.
The civil society organizations in 2012, shut down Nigeria after the
president Jonathan, gave fuel subsidy removal as a new year message
claiming that the government can no longer bear the burden of the
subsidy. The aftermath of this protest was part of what contributed to
his failure at the 2015 general election.
Unfortunately, the party that rode on this gain to defeated the then
president has now embarked on the same path at a time when the majority
of nations across the globe are giving different palliatives to cushion
the effect of the hardship caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the outbreak of COVD-19 pandemic, so many companies have shut
down their production lines, sent workers on leave without pay while
some have been disengaged. Infact, the Federal government in a silent
manner disengaged 500, 000 N-power Volunteers in June/July, under the
disguise of transition to an undisclosed next level programme. Some of
these people are fathers and mothers with children.
Most teachers at the private schools are now struggling to meet their
responsibility at home because of the inability of their schools to pay
them full salary while some have resulted to begging and borrowing in
order to survive this trying time.
This does not exempt those working at the worship centers. The report
released by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) in August, shows that
the level of unemployment has increased astronomically to an
unprecedented level while the number of underemployed hands continue to
Before the pandemic, there have been concerns about the rising in the
curve of poverty in the country. For example, the country was awarded
poverty capital of the world after overtaken India in a “poverty relay
match” conducted by the World Poverty Clock in 2018.
With the recent retrenchment and disengagement from both the government
and private companies, the number of 92 million Nigerians living in
extreme poverty has increased. This ought to guide the government in the
formulation and implementation of policy like this.
Unfortunately, the government failed to considered this until its
attention was drawn to it by the NLC and TUC through the drum of strike
and protest actions. Rather, what was made manifest was the comparison
of the pump price between Nigeria and her neighbouring countries
championed by Hon. Minister Lai Mohammed in an attempt to justify the
hike in the pump price without putting into consideration the minimum
wage and level of poverty in those countries.
Even, if the minimum wage of those countries were the same with the one
in place in Nigeria, it is obvious that pump price was not increased at
the middle of the pandemic that has nearly crippled the global economy.
And this has being the issue with most government policies in the
Most times, government looks at a policy in other countries and try to
replicate it in Nigeria without putting into consideration the
environmental factors and the nature of the country. Not too long ago we
had a similar occurrence at the national assembly when some legislatures
introduced an imported hate speech bill from Singapore to the house.
Similar misstep might have been responsible for the announcement of the
removal of fuel subsidy at the inception of the new year in 2012, when
most people have exhausted the money on them on the festive celebration
before it was reversed due to days of protest. Though, some have argued
that the protest was politically motivated because most of the prominent
figures at the protest are now in the political office or have
affiliation with those in power today.
However, these political marchants would not have capitalized on the
removal of subsidy to gathered such mammoth crowd to project their
interest if the government had issued the deregulation directive at the
Although, looking at the magnitude of allegation of corruption that has
beclouded the downstream sector, it is crystal clear that no government
will want to continue the payment of subsidy on patrol, but in doing
this there is need to put into consideration the prevailing
circumstances which seems to the lacuna in this case.
Though, the government claimed that the removal is for the benefit of
the masses because most people that benefit much from the fuel subsidy
are those that have cars, but it failed to understand that any hike in
the price of fuel will definitely affect the prices of goods and
services across the country. Infact, it will affect the cost of running
power generation, especially, “I better pass my neighbor” which gives
relief to the masses suffering from the epileptic power supply.
Epileptic power supply has been one of the factors impeding development
in Nigeria. The more money spent on it, the more it seems to be
degenerating. That is why Nigerians are calling on the government to
speedily fulfill all the promises reached at the negotiation table with
the labour centres so that the the nation will not move from frying pan
to fire by toying with already tense and inflammable atmosphere created
by the Coronavirus pandemic.