BY IFATIMEHIN OLAYEMI OLUFEMI, JUNE 2, 2023, 2:55 PM
As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumes the highest office in the land with his renewed hope mantra, Nigerians are filled with a sense of anticipation and hope for a brighter future. Amidst these hopes, concerns have been raised regarding the issue of fuel subsidy removal. While some argue that it may be a deviation from the expected path, it is crucial to address these concerns and shed light on the potential for positive change under President Tinubu's leadership. It is important to note that my stand is that the policy statement ‘Subsidy is gone’ is rather too hash, hasty and ill planned. Notwithstanding my stand, the policy is here with us, navigating out of the woods is a priority, hence this piece.
The removal of fuel subsidies has historically been a contentious issue in Nigeria, often resulting in increased prices and economic hardships for the masses. It is understandable that Nigerians would express apprehension when faced with the possibility of such a policy change, particularly during a transition to a new government.
President Tinubu, as a leader known for his astuteness and dedication, has the opportunity to address these concerns and provide reassurance to the Nigerian people. This moment presents an occasion for him to set a new precedent and demonstrate his commitment to inclusive governance and the well-being of the citizens.
Transparency and open communication are key in assuaging the fears surrounding subsidy removal. President Tinubu should prioritize engaging with the public and explaining the rationale behind the decision, emphasizing the long-term benefits it may bring to the economy and the nation as a whole.
To ensure that the burden of subsidy removal is not disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable, President Tinubu's administration should develop robust and comprehensive mitigation strategies. These could include targeted welfare programs, social safety nets, and initiatives aimed at supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
One way to minimize the impact of subsidy removal is by prioritizing the development of local refining capacity. By investing in refineries and encouraging private sector participation, President Tinubu can help reduce dependence on imported petroleum products, stabilize prices, and create employment opportunities. The Dangote Refinery, located in Lagos, is poised to be Africa's largest oil refinery, with a refining capacity of 650,000 barrels per day. This ambitious project represents a major step towards reducing Nigeria's reliance on imported petroleum products and fostering a robust domestic refining sector. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's administration must seize this opportune moment to harness the transformative potential of the Dangote Refinery and amplify its positive impact on the Nigerian economy.
A key component of President Tinubu's agenda should be the diversification of the Nigerian economy. By promoting sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, the country can reduce its reliance on oil revenue and create a more resilient and inclusive economy that benefits all Nigerians.
President Tinubu should foster a culture of consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders, including labor unions, civil society organizations, and economic experts. By involving these groups in policy formulation and decision-making processes, a more inclusive and balanced approach can be achieved.
While the removal of fuel subsidies may initially pose challenges, it is essential to view this decision as an opportunity for transformative change. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's leadership presents a chance to address the concerns of Nigerians and pave the way for a future built on resilience, economic growth, and social development. Through transparent communication, targeted mitigation strategies, investment in local refining, diversification of the economy, and collaboration with stakeholders, a new dawn of hope can be realized. Let us embrace this journey with optimism, for it is through collective effort and visionary leadership that we can build a prosperous and equitable Nigeria for all.
Ifatimehin Olayemi Olufemi, PhD Teacher
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17 January 2022