The Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has thrown its support behind President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s total removal of the unbearable petrol subsidy’s burden on Nigerian economy.
The NECA also called on the organised labour, especially the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), to rollback its declaration of a nationwide strike to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy and embrace dialogue in order not to disrupt the ongoing slow recovery trajectory of the Nigerian economy
The Director General of NECA, Mr. Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, yesterday. in a press statement titled “Fuel Subsidy Removal: NECA Urges Future-Focused Action,” insisted that it was alarming that while the arguments for the removal of subsidy over the years remained irrefutably compelling, successive administrations did not demonstrate the political will to do so and save the nation from irresponsible borrowing to fund crass inefficiency and corruption-ridden expenditure.
Oyerinde said: “We reaffirm our call of many years for the total removal of the fuel subsidy, as it has neither served the interest of the average Nigerian nor has it promoted enterprise sustainability, growth, and competitiveness in the country.
“The subsidy removal could unlock over N6 trillion in revenue annually, which can be channeled into infrastructure development, etc. Reports have shown that less than 3.0 per cent of Nigerians (the super-rich), benefit from the subsidy regime. Efforts to provide immediate short-term palliatives should be fast-tracked in view of its urgency.”
He also made a case for complete rehabilitation and transparent privatisation of existing government owned refineries in the country while highlighting the need for the government to embark on public awareness campaign to win citizen’s buy-in to its fuel subsidy removal.
According to him, “government should urgently complete the rehabilitation of existing refineries to boost local production. However, in the medium-term, it should commence a transparent privatisation of the moribund national refineries and encourage the entrance of new investors to encourage competition.”
He added that, “government should step up widespread public awareness campaigns to communicate not only the reason for the subsidy removal but also its potential impact and measures to mitigate the short-term negative effects. Citizen’s engagement is paramount.”
The NECA also appealed to the labour unions to sheath their swords and reconsider its threat of another strike.
Oyerinde said: “The economy is already in tatters with businesses (both at the formal and informal sectors) facing multidimensional challenges. Further disruption of the ongoing recovery trajectory will not likely hurt government but do more colossal damage to businesses, workers and Nigerians in general.
“The imperative for social dialogue cannot be over-emphasised as a veritable and potent means of resolving the knotty issue of fuel subsidy removal.
“We re-affirm, most responsibly that in the face of dire fiscal challenges with a politically fragile, socially tensed, and economically austere environment, the nation must brace up to swallow the bitter pill and wean itself from the cancerous fuel subsidy regime.
“As a responsible social partner and national development advocate, NECA will continue to champion responsible enterprises, encourage fiscal discipline at all tiers of government, promote decent and productive employment for national growth and continue to offer government constructive and workable policy options to hasten Nigeria’s economic and social renaissance.”