Former Presidential Candidate in the 2023 Nigerian elections under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo, has clarified what he meant in his previous statement where he called out hypocritical behaviours of public officials, especially the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) concerning the reactions towards the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy in the nation.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered a review of the planned N8,000 conditional cash transfer programme, which is intended to help disadvantaged households affected by the recent elimination of the petrol subsidy.
Concerns and misunderstandings about the programme, according to President Tinubu’s Special Adviser Dele Alake, drove President Tinubu to make this decision. In addition, the President has authorised the immediate distribution of fertiliser and cereals to about 50 million farmers and families across the nation.
Adewole, in an interview in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, called out the government for making the wrong decision to take away subsidy without proper planning, calling the Nigerian president a “hypocrite” for his support and implementation of the removal of petroleum subsidy from day one of his inauguration into office after his opposition to it in the regime of former president Jonathan.
“There are two types of people that criticise the policy. Some are hypocrites, some are persistent. Those who are opposed to subsidy removal like me and other people, they have grounds to criticize the program. But those who supported any platform that said they will remove subsidy by day one, they are hypocritical. Once you agree to throw a five year old child from 10th floor of a building, you cannot say I am surprised that the child broke the limbs. That is the point I’m making. There is no way that you implement the policy they are implementing now, that you are not going to have the same consequences.
“Economics does not allow cheating. You can cheat in politics, you can inflate numbers in politics but when it comes to economics, you can’t, you have to take the right policies.
“If you don’t take the right policies, the consequences of the wrong policies will follow. You remember that when we are talking of hypocrites, the hypocrites did not start with the labour union. The hypocrite started with president Tinubu himself who opposed president Jonathan when he had a smaller amount of subsidy adjustment.
“And all of them went on the street and said ‘you cannot do this. The whole country will collapse.’ and then when they came to power, they went in the opposite direction and finished everything once and for all.
“I am not of the view that we should have taken subsidy off, we could predict it, we’ve been discussing it, so nobody can pretend that they are not aware that it will affect factor cost, and if it affects factor cost, it will affect cost of living. And if it affects cost of living, more people will go into poverty.
“That’s why in the presidential debate, we were pushing alternative view. You’ve done it now, and nothing has surprised me at all. In fact, this might just be the beginning.”
If the federal government fails to implement palliative measures following the elimination of gasoline subsidies under the current economic crisis, at least 7.1 million Nigerians may fall into abject poverty. The World Bank made the announcement on Tuesday in Abuja in its June 2023 edition of the Nigeria Development Update.
Adewole Adebayo listed certain steps to which the government can take to drastically review the palliative provision to be made available to citizens as a form of relief to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal.
“First we should stop misusing the word palliative. With this eight thousand Naira which is a carry over from the existing budget, 2023 budget, the carry over is the by product of the plan Buhari administration left behind as to how they would manage. Even this 800 million from the world bank was negotiated by the past government. So, policy watchers should not behave as if they didn’t know that it was in the office. It is a band-aid on a decapitated person. It doesn’t make any sense at all.
“And it appears as if the government is not aware of monetary neutrality. Where you have no food, when you have no means of transportation, when you have no medical care, throwing money at you is not going to increase the number of service providers. It’s not going to increase the value of goods in the market. What it’s going to do is that, one: they will be wasted and the money will not be well used. Secondly, when the money gets to the end user, it is useless to them in real time because they don’t have the goods to purchase with the money and that will lead to a little bit of inflation. That’s all it can do.
“Subsidy has gone. I don’t agree with it but it’s the policy of the government and it appears as if almost every mainstream party and political analyst agrees with that bad policy, if you want to continue along that line, what you do is to de-link the people from the value chain of petrol. And the easy way to do that for example is the transportations and logistics point of view.
“You make sure that the price of petrol does not impact vulnerability of people to commute. That’s why you see many cities, whether London or Singapore or any city of your choice, what you will find is the common people on the street don’t feel the effect when the price of petrol goes up or down.
“Second, those who depend on food supplies or other services that require petrol to motorize the logistics, those people get affected.
“Thirdly, those who are in the petroleum market and are making a lot of, or less money, depending on how government policy goes on the matter. Those are the people who worry about it asides the government who worry about the fiscal finance of any subsidy that may be there.
“So I think that the common people are the easiest that you can take off that line. Don’t try to throw money at them or excuse the dislocation by other government program that you are doing.
“The issue that you have to deal with is to ensure that people in the public, majority of Nigerians, won’t have any price inflation in their transportation.”