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7 things we learnt from ‘Life After End of Petrol Subsidy’ BusinessDay Talk Exchange

Subsidy removal presents hardest test for new president

BusinessDay Media Limited hosted a Twitter Space on Wednesday to discuss how Nigerians plan to adjust to life after the removal of the controversial petrol subsidy.

President Bola Tinubu on Monday during his inauguration announced that “subsidy is gone” sending the market into a tailspin as those who had the products quickly shut their pumps and long queues emerged across the nation.

Here are seven key statements to know from BusinessDay Talk Exchange on ‘Life After End of Petrol Subsidy’.

Positive response from the stock market

The removal of the petrol subsidy was received with glee in the stock market. The marketer’s All Share Index spiked the highest a day after the announcement than it has ever done in the last more than three years. The market has rallied within the last few days. Investors are putting money into the downstream sector, especially companies like Conoil and the rest. Their shares are rising, and that indicates that investors see it as a very good policy. It is actually the best news for the stock market. It is not the best news for the average Nigerian, but the market behaves differently.

Unions can clamour for cost cuts on government expenses

The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and other representatives of the people can clamour for significant reduction in the cost of governance. The government should also be made to share in the pain of the people. So the waste in Nigerian governance occasioned by excess costs should be shaved.

The subsidy removal presents the perfect opportunity to curb government excesses like the outrageous allowances given to lawmakers, selling off several planes in the presidential fleet, and pruning down wasteful government expenditures and inflated budgets that are not grounded in reality.

Read also: Expectations for Nigeria’s president are so low, all he has to do is beat them

Opportunity for state governments to shine

This is the time for them to show leadership, and show they were elected by the people. This is a time for them to be proactive about assuaging the pains of the people.

An example of what state governments can do is shut down or remove fraudulent monies/taxies/commissions collected from transporters, or put it on review till further notice. That is a very powerful tool, especially now that the subsidy has been removed.

If this is addressed, to some extent, even if there is going to be an increase in fares, that increment is not going to be so much that people cannot pay for it. This will also impact the cost of transporting food items.

They can also set up alternative means of transport. Where there are water bodies around, marine transport systems can be set up. There are rails now, they can get in tune with the rails that the Buhari government has constructed. Everyone should not be on the road.

It is time to conserve energy

The next thing that is going to go up is the price of electricity. People can/should buy bulbs that are energy-saving. If the subsidy is removed on petrol, gas prices are also going to be affected especially with the convergence of the exchange rate. We should also start taking practical actions like using solar panels. Within reach, we can buy some and support our users.

Mass-transit systems should be created and prioritised

In more developed countries, people are trying to conserve the use of fossil fuels. There are fewer cars on the roads. The planet is warming, and we have to cut down on fuel use. Nigerians can reduce the number of times they use their cars and make use of public transport.

Companies can be more pragmatic

If there are aspects of your job that can be done at home, have your staff work remotely. And there are systems of accountability. For example, some companies use Slack, Teams, Zoom and other resources to ensure that they can even monitor where you work. This will help organisations cut down on the cost of diesel. This will also lead to fewer people on the road and fewer traffic jams.

Government should be more accountable

Great plans will only work if the government is more accountable to the people. Accountability in governance drives economic growth and development, which should be reflected in citizens’ quality of life.