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Fuel subsidy removal: NLC speaks on N5bn palliative to states

by The Economy

The end is yet to come on the issue of fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Tinubu, as the Nigerian Labour Congress insists that the policy and subsequent palliative of N5 billion allocated to each state were skewed against poor Nigerians and to benefit the ruling politicians and must be resisted.

President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, on Thursday, said the N5 billion palliative sum allocated to each state in Nigeria to cushion the effect of removal of subsidy on fuel would only end up in the pockets of governors and members of the rulling political class.

Speaking at the NLC national symposium themed: “Nigeria Economy and the Crisis of Survival: Robbing the Poor to Pay the Rich,” Ajaero passionately insisted that the N5 billion palliative was not enough to help a single local government area in one state of the federation.

The Economy reckons that with a total of 774 local government areas in Nigeria, each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) has an average of 21 local government areas. Bayelsa State with the least number of local government areas has eight, while Kano State has the highest number at 44.

Ajaero said the palliative fund offered by the Tinubu government was a mockery of the poor as it was meant to bribe governors and the rulling class, while the ordinary Nigerians keep wailing and crying for help.

He pictured Nigeria as a country where the leaders exhibit the highest form of wickedness against her citizens, describing the policy as “a war against the poor.”

He said: “Governors are in the habit of convert­ing whatever was meant for the poor masses and workers to their benefit. Therefore, by this pantry palliative of N5 billion, the Federal Government will only further en­rich the state governors at the expense of the poor masses, because the distribution of the pal­liatives would be skewed in favour of the ruling class.

“The palliatives which the Federal Government was giv­ing to a whole state is barely enough to adequately cater for just one local government area in a state.”

“What is happening in the country today is clearly a class war between us the dispossessed and those that have.

“They want to continue to have. Whether it is the issue of subsidy or whatever. So, it is clearly a war against the poor. I have not seen such wickedness against the poor anywhere, as seen in Nigeria today.

“The announcement we got about the N5 billion allocation to the states is so annoying. You allocate N5 billion to states and five trucks of rice. If you share five trucks of rice to a local government area they will not get one, one cup.

“If we accept the position of the Bureau of Statistics that we have 133 million Ni­gerians that are multi-dimen­sionally poor before the sub­sidy removal. And after the subsidy removal the number must have increased or dou­bled. If you multiply 5 billion by 36 states and Abuja, you will get about 185 billion. If you divide it by 133 million that are multi-dimensional­ly poor, each person will not get up to N1,500. Is that the palliative?

“You will take the palliative and give to the governors. It is obvious that anything you call palliative and give to the governors is not for workers. We all remembered how for­mer President Buhari gave them money to offset salaries of workers but they refused to use the money to better the life of Nigerian citizens under their governance.”

The NLC president also lamented that unfavorable policies of government was widening the gap between the poor and rich in Nigeria as the middle class has been totally eroded.

“People can’t go to work again, there is nothing on ground for them to work on. This lamentation has con­tinued to go on and on, and Nigerian workers are at the receiving end.

“What the bourgeoisies are getting is not reducing. They are getting subsidy on daily basis, some of them that are importing goods, they are giving them import waivers. Their allowances are increasing but that of Ni­gerian workers are decreas­ing by the day.

“Poverty situation is wors­ening, the level of unemploy­ment is unimaginable and the same with the level of under­employment. There is hardly any Nigerian that is properly remunerated going by what is happening in the country.

“The worst is that there is no social safety net. No transportation system, no housing, even if a workers save for 35 years, the money cannot afford housing. Our pension deductions we can­not say much about it. Now what is it that government is actually doing for the citi­zens? Where is welfarist ser­vice component of the state to its citizens?

“This is a call that this lamentation is more and the gap between the poor and the rich is getting wide by the day. The middle class has disappeared and there is no conscious effort to redeem the situation.”

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The Nigerian Economy

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