Olumide Akpata, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association has urged the Federal Government to provide an alternative for Nigerians if they must remove fuel subsidy.
He was speaking on a program aired on Channels TV. Mr Akpata said the subsidy issue is a ‘hot potato’ for any government, particularly in this part of the world.
He said from a legal perspective, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, there is no way the issue of subsidy can be avoided. “We are going to have to sit down and talk about subsidies and bitter pills will have to be swallowed at some point.”
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Mr Akpata said, “I would have loved to think that the decision to suspend fuel subsidy removal is because the government cares so much about the people and that it is a government that is listening to the cries of the people, because indeed, as the minister of finance mentioned, it would be really tough if subsidy removal is implemented at this time with all of the other supervening circumstances.”
“We are kicking the can further down the roads now. What are we doing in the interim? Are we going to take advantage of this and the intervening period to put alternatives on the table?”
“Nigerians are not unreasonable people, if they see that there are alternatives on the table, viable alternatives, they will understand the logic. It’s arching towards closing the nose of a child and his mouth and then expecting him or her to breathe.”
“There must be alternatives, there must be a way out. So am hoping that, whichever government comes in 2023, because I don’t see this subsidy thing coming up again until after the elections, that will be my bet,” Mr Akpata said.
When asked if not removing subsidy is not a solution, Mr Akpata said “What I think is happening is that someone has decided to kick the can further down the road, just a bit and make provision for July and a little bit further down and maybe we will come back to the issue later.”
He said, “I am persuaded that it is just a temporary solution pending when political juggernauts come back from the field.”
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Nairametrics reported that Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed revealed yesterday that the Federal Government has postponed the take-off of the policy till further notice.
Mrs Ahmed attributed the postponement of the implementation of the policy to bad timing.