By Tobi Soniyi
The Coordinator, Nigeria Diaspora Network, Samuel Atolaiye, has expressed support for the decision of President Muhmmadu Buhari to remove subsidy on petroleum products.
Speaking with journalists on telephone, Atolaiye who is based in the United States of America said though the policy decision was a bitter pill to swallow, the benefits outweighed the disadvantage.
He noted that even though the decision was taken while Nigeria and the world were battling to contain the novel Coronavirus, he nevertheless said that removing the subsidy was a decision that had to be taken.
He said: “There is no time that is right in the eye of the critics. The removal is something that has to be done.
“The petroleum products subsidy has been a longstanding issue that should have long been resolved.
“As a result of COVID-19, every responsible government must think outside the box to mitigate the impact on its people and the economy generally. Removing petrol subsidy is one of the ways to stop economic wastage and fix the bleeding in the Nigerian oil industry.”
He argued that, to lift more Nigerians from poverty, the government had to free the money it spent on subsidy.
He stated that before the subsidy was removed, Nigeria’s spending on oil subsidy was more than four times what the country spent on building schools and health centres in a country of nearly 200 million people, with about 87 million living in extreme poverty.
He said: “The fact that the president accepted the removal does not mean that the government is not mindful of the pains that higher prices mean at this time neither does it mean that the government is taking the sacrifices that all Nigerians had to make for granted. The president has courageously done this for the Nigerian people.”
He called on President Buhari to immediately disband the Petroleum Equalisation Fund and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency.
He said: “Documents related to their operations should be carefully reviewed/audited and the lessons learnt should be used in other government agencies. Few best brains could be transferred to other agencies where they could best contribute to the development of the nation.”
He noted that the decision to remove the subsidies would no doubt take a heavy toll on the ruling All Progressives Congress.
He said: “However, that should not be an excuse for any responsible government to fold its arms and do nothing. This is the reason why Nigerians should appreciate the bold step that President Buhari and the ruling party had taken on the issue of subsidy.
“It is my view that the APC-led administration took this decision to eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products. This decision by the government will allow the market to determine their prices without government interference which in the long run will be good for the economy.
“People might hate the APC government for taking this bold step now, the opposition will no doubt use this against the government but in no distance future when people start experiencing the effect of the removal in the form of better development of state of the art hospitals, rehabilitation of roads etc. then, they will thank the government for this bold step.”