By Merit Ibe
The Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) has remarked that there are socio-political issues that have to be considered side by side with the fuel subsidy removal.
Chairman, MAN Apapa branch, Frank Onyebu, spoke following Federal Government’s plan to remove fuel subsidy next year and replace it with a N5,000 monthly transport grant to 40 million Nigerians.
He noted that fuel subsidy is not sustainable and would have to be removed at a certain time, adding that the trillion Naira question is, when? “But we all know it’s not that easy.
The MAN boss explained that one of the burning issues is the question of poverty, saying with a very high percentage of the population living way below the poverty line, it’s going to be quite tough convincing the people to accept subsidy removal.
“I know the government has said it plans a N5,000 palliative for some Nigerians as transport subsidy, but like everything in Nigeria, managing that would be another big issue. How can you guarantee that whatever amount that is being budgeted won’t end up in the bank accounts of some government officials?”
Removal of subsidy, he said was inevitable, someday, but needs to be managed properly.
“In addition to doing something about the growing poverty, the government needs to do something about the corruption in the management of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
“I still don’t understand why the refineries have consistently refused to work in spite of the huge outlay of government funds that has gone into their reactivating over the years. It’s really impossible to understand!
He noted that the issue of corruption in the importation of petroleum products into the country and various scandals were reported in the past, “ but I don’t know how many convictions we’ve had. Then there’s the addition issue of inefficiency even with NNPC being the sole importer.