When ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan, made a statement concerning the removal of subsidy, Nigerians took to the streets in protest. It was a justified protest. Many supported this cause. Even Bola Ahmed Tinubu accused the former president of breaching his contract with Nigerians. In hindsight, the sting was probably lighter because inflation at that time was not this bad. Yet people could foresee what thorn it would be to take away the freebie they had always enjoyed. For some, this subsidy had been all of their lives.
Again, in 2015, the Buhari-led administration took a similar outlook on the topic. Although the subject dragged on for so long, 2023 eventually saw to its manifestation. The subsidy talk eventually came to be. It is just ridiculous that no amount of time could prepare one for this huge price in the midst of a hostile inflation. Worse still is the ripple effect the increase will have on market commodities in no time. Countering this, the GCEO of NNPC in an interview with Arise news said that things would eventually be regulated as time goes on. I sincerely hope so, a hope against hope, since this is Nigeria where prices that go up scarcely ever come down.
What I find most ridiculous, however, is the speed and insensitive alacrity with which this was effected. Were we not looking at July 1? Why are we already buying petrol at ₦500? Are we sure July 1 will not bring an even higher price than we currently have? I will like to sideline and jokingly point that Buhari, who some think to be naive seem to be someone who is capable of displaying innocence while making silent yet smart moves. He announced the subsidy removal but somehow found a way to make his successor effect it. As such, it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban himself, the very one who spoke against subsidy removal, who has infact removed subsidy. Apparently, like the circulated video, our president indeed hit the ground running on his first day as leader and we are probably doing likewise.
Subsidy was introduced in the ’70s to ameliorate the effect of petroleum rise on the people. The idea of subsidy was to regulate fuel price. Basically, the government paid for the excess cost between importation price and pump price. Nonetheless, it had its cons while it lasted. For investors, it meant they could not do business as usual as prices were more or less regulated. For the nation, it meant less money to fund other sectors like healthcare or agriculture. It also meant that people in charge could afford to tamper with figures and steal some money for themselves of the amount that should have alleviated the sufferings of nationals. It thus appears that subsidy solely favoured the masses.
However, despite the immense help rendered, it would seem that the country yet plunged deeper in debt, defying the regular saying of givers never lacking. A holistic view at the issues on ground makes the need for subsidy removal quite imminent. However, should it be at the risk of people who barely feed? Why do we record so much increase in fuel price already when we have till July 1? Why is the talk of increased minimum wage only just coming up? What methods are in place to help manage the effect of this removal? What are Nigerians to do in the mean time? Run? Or Ride, regardless?