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Subsidy removal: N35,000 wage award, CNG buses, empty promises

It is no longer news that every Nigerian is feeling the heat of the fuel subsidy removal; from the low-income earners to the middle-income earners.…

It is no longer news that every Nigerian is feeling the heat of the fuel subsidy removal; from the low-income earners to the middle-income earners. This is evident with the fewer cars that ply the once ever busy roads of Lagos and Abuja.

The inability of most car users to drive their cars regularly depicts so much deprivation of comfort and sacrifice which was demanded of Nigerians by the federal government.

Those who use the public transport, are also experiencing great hardship occasioned by the increased cost of public transportation. This hardship cuts across major cities in Nigeria especially the cities of Abuja and Lagos.

Salary earners can no longer save from their income as a result of the increased cost of living. Most workers spend a great deal of their salaries on feeding and transportation.

The federal government had announced measures to relieve Nigerians of the pains of subsidy removal. One of the promises of the government was to pay federal civil servants a monthly wage of N35,000.

The payment was to take effect from September 2023. Unfortunately, reports have shown that the federal government made the payment only once in September.

Workers have also expressed doubt that the government would pay the arrears even as we approach the yuletide season.

Another promise that was made was to import CNG buses and set up CNG conversion plants across the country. However, five months since the promise was made, there is no evidence of CNG buses anywhere in Abuja or Lagos.

This promise is left unfulfilled despite the supplementary budget submitted by the President and approved by the National Assembly. To achieve this feat, the government had approached the World Bank for a loan, the savings from the subsidy removal would have also presented itself as a source of funding to implement the promise.

The silence of the federal government to the continuous suffering of the masses since the removal of fuel subsidy indicates a lot of insensitivity to the plight of the citizens.

The insensitivity is even heightened given the fact that the same government had approved the purchase of luxury SUVs for the newly elected lawmakers which cost over N160 million per vehicle.

The recently proposed budget of the FG also revealed a lot of frivolous allocations to the office of the Presidency and the office of the Vice President.

The advisers of Mr President should appeal to the conscience of the government to focus more on the plights of its 133 million poor citizens in the allocation of its resources. The poor civil servants who earn just N30,000 as minimum wage should be given a reprieve, by paying them all arrears from October to December, N35,000 promised wage award.

Whatever palliatives the FG had promised, there is need for it to swing into action and fulfil them to avoid social crisis. The CNG buses should be immediately deployed across cities and the CNG plants should be set up nationwide to provide CNG conversion services to Nigerians at very affordable rates.

 

Victor Emejuiwe, Centre for Social Justice, Abuja

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