Published On: Wed, Aug 2nd, 2023

Subsidy Removal: Dafinobe Urges Nigeria To Brace Up For Tough Times

DAFINONE...

LAGOS AUGUST 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)-The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Legislative Compliance, Chief Ede Dafinone, has urged Nigerians to be prepared for tough times as a result of the fuel subsidy removal.

Senator Dafinone noted that there is a likelihood of tougher economic times, especially in the next six months because the price of petrol is expected to continue rising.

He, however, told Nigerians that despite the difficult economic situation, they should keep hope alive as the challenges would soon fizzle out.

Dafinone representing Delta Central in the National Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Congress stated this on Saturday during a reception held in honour of federal lawmakers in the 10th National Assembly of Urhobo extraction organised by the Urhobo Leadership Forum in Abuja.

Other lawmakers honoured were Hon. Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, representing Udu, Ughelli North and Ughelli South federal constituency; daughter of James Ibori, a former Governor of Delta State, Hon. Mrs. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, representing Ethiope federal constituency and Hon Benedict Etanabene, representing Okpe, Sapele, Uvwie federal constituency.

Dafinone described subsidy as a necessary evil that required clinical amputation to save the nation from the brinks of a full-blown economic collapse.

He said, “At this point, the government is putting together policies to ameliorate the situation. But Nigerians must be aware that the next one or two months will be difficult because the petrol price may still go up again and we must be ready to spend wisely in an economy that will get worse before it gets better.

“So I ask you here to also recognise that it may get worse still and that belts must be tightened in preparation for what may be a difficult, maybe four to six months before recovery commences.

“We recognise also that the policies taken by this government so far will attract foreign direct investment and make the economy of Nigeria more prosperous. But it will take some time and we must be patient with the government. The President has taken some bold steps and we must find support for the government to get things right once and for all.”

According to him, the criticisms trailing the removal of the fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu were not fair, adding that all political parties agreed during the campaign that the subsidy had to go.

Dafinone said that Nigerians should not blame the President for removing the subsidy without a plan, recalling that marketers had removed the subsidy before the President had a chance to formally remove it.

The Senator said, “I am speaking from the backdrop of the campaigns where all political parties agreed that the petrol subsidy must go, that it was impractical for this administration, even past administrations to continue to fund subsidy especially as a lot of subsidy that was being given by government found its way across the borders.

“But the President’s intention was not to remove the subsidy immediately. It was an announcement made to give confidence to the international community and Nigerians that the right thing would be done in terms of the economy and in terms of the funds that would then be released after stopping the subsidy.

“But as soon as that announcement was made, marketers immediately increased the prices and in view of the potential chaos that was starting to cause within the few days of the announcement, the President deemed it fit to formally declare that the subsidy was gone. The palliatives that would have been put in place before the actual removal of subsidies, there was no opportunity to put them in place.”

While asking Urhobo ethnic nationality to hold him and his colleagues accountable, he pledged to take their views to the National Assembly and ensure that their interests were protected.

Another lawmaker, Benedict Etanabene, representing Okpe, Sapele, Uvwie federal constituency, however, disagreed with Dafinone’s submissions, saying that the government was not sincere in its dealing with the people.

The lawmaker maintained that there was nothing wrong with the government to subsidise petrol for Nigerians, adding that the idea of providing palliatives would not ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians.

He said, “I do not believe that there is anything called subsidy in the petroleum industry in Nigeria. I’ve held this position since when I was branch chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria in 2000. I argued at the national level when the first increase was to take place that if there is a petroleum subsidy, let us see it with two eyes. And the only way we can determine that is to know how much our consumption of petroleum is. We should know how much we are importing into Nigeria and we should also know where they’re going to and know the people they are paying such money to.

“Section 3 of the constitution provides the duties of government, mainly the provision of security and welfare. So, there’s nothing in life the government should not subsidize. Government should subsidize food, water, and even petroleum should not be an exception.

“All these palliatives will not work. If we increase workers’ salary (even though I am not against that), how many people are government workers in Nigeria? Less than five per cent. The N8000 will also not work. I think the best palliative is the one every one of us will enjoy which means bringing down the price of fuel to N65.”

The President of ULF, Jonathan Esin, challenges the new lawmakers to sponsor appropriate legislation that would usher in a total transformation of Urhobo land and serve its best interest.

He said, “Permit me to observe that your predecessors did well to call attention to the plight of our people and attracted some federal projects. However, there were laudable ideas and projects which they formulated but could not pursue up to implementation. Two of such that readily come to mind are the establishment of a University of Agriculture and Technology in Orerokpe and the reopening of Sapele and Warri Ports for commercial activities.

“Therefore, in addition to new ones, which in your wisdom, you are bringing on board, we believe those already in the consciousness of the National Assembly and the Nigerian public should not be allowed to go into oblivion.”

Punch

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