Over the years Nigerians have been inundated by experts’ opinions on the inevitability and advantage of fuel subsidy removal. The mantra is: ‘the subsidy has to go.’ That is the final stance since fuel subsidy was said to be unsustainable, and the narrative is that it ‘does not benefit the poor’, but only few wealthy people that make billions in the subsidy ‘scam.’
Well the deed is done; fuel subsidy is removed to the happiness of the experts and the not-so-experts as well , who behave like experts in case you look like an illiterate if you dare voice a different opinion.
However, surprisingly there no clear answers from the experts on the ripple effects that follow the fuel subsidy removal. Transport fares have skyrocketed and with it the cost of everything.
But these few days’ things seem to be getting worse at an alarming rate. A bag of rice bought at N34, 000 barely a month ago is now N41,000.
The continuous fall of the naira against the dollar and the stories of increase in pump price to over N700 per litre have created panic that President Bola Tinubu said there was no plan to increase fuel price. He also met with the Central Bank acting governor, Folashodun Shonubi on how to stabilise the naira.
In any event, from all indications the experts are at a loss, they don’t have a solution apart from to remove the fuel subsidy and use the money for infrastructure and so on.
I don’t know why they have not envisaged the hardship people would suffer and proffer solution, though some clever ones now say we have to suffer before we get it better.
But how do you expect a family man who earns N30, 000 a month to understand that, when the money could not pay his transport fare for a month? With what would he feed his family?
Some may say he is lucky he has a job, he may be, but that doesn’t remove the fact of his dilemma and he deserves more to combat the current price increase. But he is not getting it and he is expected to be happy.
Those in the informal sector like artisans and public transport drivers are not finding it easy as well. The drivers complain that people are not travelling as frequently as before because of the increase of the transport fare. Unless it is necessary people don’t travel.
Then suddenly universities increased registration fee starting from N100,000 upwards depending on the course, yet the government insists that federal universities are free, and the universities defended their action by saying the increase in the registration fee was in tune with ‘ reality.’
But the purchasing power of the parents has not increased and many parents and students don’t know what to do. I was listening to a radio in Kano and as some radio stations allow people to solicit for help, especially in seeking medical help or tuition fee, I heard a young man who was asking for help from people to help him pay his registration fee in a university. He said he was a medical student.
There many of such touching stories all over the place, but the experts have not told Nigerians whom they harassed how to survive this poverty.
And instead of placating the people, some people are still quick to point out that fuel is still cheaper in Nigeria than in other West African countries.
I think it is the height of insensitivity as if the people don’t count; that they may go to blazes. But just because somebody suffers more than you do, does it make it right or humane to say you should not complain about your pain?
In this regard the experts should please come up with the solutions on how to get people out of this economic hardship. Their expertise is needed now more than ever.