The federal government has been cautioned by a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Peter Akpatasons against contemplating the sudden removal of petrol subsidy.
Akpatason, an ex-president of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), told journalists in Abuja that the option of removing fuel subsidy should be the last option to be considered by the government.
“We must have a master-plan for addressing the issue of subsidy, this ad hoc pronouncements cannot help the situation either.
“You cannot wake up one day and say we’re stopping subsidy. Try it and see what happens. It’s not a threat, but from my experience, I know that if you just wake up one day and remove subsidy, there will be serious trouble.
“There should be a planned programme that would ensure that removal of subsidy would not create more problems than the solution anticipated,â€ he said.
He said the policy of granting fuel subsidy was economically ill-conceived, and that its withdrawal must be done in a way that would not put a burden on the government and cause additional problems for the masses.
“Now you’re talking about the removal of subsidy, diesel has been deregulated, but has the situation changed? In some places in the country, it sells for N150 per litre even when marketers are importing massively.
“If you just jump to remove it, the economic pressure that will follow, the political consequences and the rest of them would be enormous,” he said.
To him, subsidy is “a reflection of the failure in our system,” that “we must address,” stressing “from the economic point of view, I think it is wrong. We at some point must talk about stopping subsidy. We can’t continue with subsidy forever.
“We have been talking about subsidy removal and the need to remove subsidy for many years and each time those discussions come up people come up ideas of what to do in the immediate to ensure that the situation that gave rise to the subsidy itself is addressed, but unfortunately, that is not being done.
“So if we’re talking about the desirability or susta inability of subsidy, we must go back to 2006, look at what happened in 2006 and 2011 and look at the jump in 2011 and the factors responsible for that.
“We have to address these factors responsible and address them. The volumes we are quoting are we consuming these volumes? What was the population of Nigeria in 2010 and then compare it to 2011 and 2012. What has changed? What accounts for the astronomic rise in the amount spent on subsidy in 2009 compared to 2011?” the lawmaker stressed.