Nigerian Leader Defends Ending Fuel Subsidies, As Hardship Increases
On Wednesday, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu defended the West African country’s decision to stop subsidizing fuel, which has already exacerbated economic hardships by raising the cost of transportation and basic goods.
At a meeting with governors in the nation’s capital of Abuja, Tinubu said that the money saved by ending the decades-long subsidy last week would aid the government’s initiatives and efforts to combat poverty.
Even though hardship is biting millions of people more severely, he pleaded for patience.
“We can see how poverty has affected our people’s faces. It is a society that causes poverty; it is not inherited. According to a statement from the Nigerian presidency, Tinubu stated, “Our position is to eliminate poverty.
Nigerian presidency said that the governors agreed to remove the subsidy and pledged to cooperate in putting it into effect.
The government has been subsidizing the price of imported refined petroleum products for decades, despite the fact that Nigeria is an oil-producing country.
However, the government claimed that the fuel subsidies are no longer financially viable due to declining oil revenues, widespread theft, and a decline in foreign investment. It set aside more money for the subsidies in 2022—4.4 trillion naira ($9.5 billion)—than it did for infrastructure, infrastructure improvements, and health care put together.
Analysts criticized the government’s choice to end the subsidy without providing incentives, particularly at a time when many Nigerians are already struggling to deal with record-high unemployment and poverty. Currently, inflation is at an 18-year high. Strikes have been threatened by unions in response to the subsidy decision.
The states of Nigeria have started to implement a number of measures aimed at assisting citizens, particularly workers who commute to work every day. This week, the states of Edo and Kwara reduced the work week from five to three days. Other states confirmed on Wednesday that they are considering raising the 30,000 nairas ($65) minimum wage, among other things.
The Associated Press observed businesses struggling in Abuja and other regions of Nigeria after the subsidy ended as a result of having to spend more on fuel for generators. According to the World Bank, up to 46% of Nigerians lack access to electricity.
Mahmud Mudi, a taxi driver in Kano state—the region’s economic center—said he had to stop operating his transportation company because the cost of petrol was costing him more money.
Mudi said, “The situation is intolerable.” “As a family man, this removal of the fuel subsidy has made the already unfriendly economy worse. My taxi service has been put on hold while I wait for divine intervention.
Rafi’atu Audi, a state government employee, claimed that the daily commute was challenging due to the sharp rise in transport costs.
“Our salaries haven’t changed, but transport costs have skyrocketed,” claimed Audi. It hurts, and I can no longer afford the expenses.