By now, those who received the bags of rice shared by the Federal Government across the country, may have finished their share of the package meant to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on May 29, 2023.
Of course, the largesse from the government, cannot go round, hence it was targeted at the most vulnerable Nigerians, a category of the citizens whose number is growing everyday.
But many argue that with the very low purchasing power that have almost eroded the middle-class, most Nigerians are now in the most vulnerable class, and sadly were not captured in the subsidy removal largesse of the federal government.
Presently, most Nigerians are no longer hoping for better days as it may likely not come with the reality on ground.
Those who heaved a sigh of relief on May 29th Presidential Inauguration, on the premise that things would not be worse in the Bola Tinubu administration
than they were in the Buhari’s era, are quickly changing their opinion as the economy is biting even harder now, with the country seeing the worst economic condition in her history.
“Since the presidential inauguration and the many promises made, things are getting worse. Someone argued on Arise TV recently that Tinubu’s policies are good and will take time before impacting the economy, is it until the poor masses die? Today, the exchange rate is unimaginable, high inflation has caused outrageous hikes in prices, many are hungry and even the palliative following the subsidy removal- the rice meant for the poor were shared by the rich,” Silas Ibilapo, a chartered accountant, lamented.
The accountant and auditor with an international actuary firm in Lagos, decried that the economic policies have been counter-productive, leaving the masses to suffer more.
“Nigeria had one month extra to fund fuel subsidy, but they rushed the implementation, the floating of the Naira has backfired, fuel subsidy is technically back, electricity tariff hike suspended, so, why all the noise in the first place. I don’t see a reason to be happy because the policies in place don’t have strength to lift our struggling economy. I audit SMEs, they are closing shop everyday, the dollar has crossed the N1000 mark, investors are moving away and someone is telling us the same lies they have been telling us since 1999. Of course, I will leave the country like many of my folks out there abroad, even Ghana, we once looked down on, is better than us now,” Ibilapo decried further.
Abidemi Fakeye, an Abuja-based hospitality investor, noted that the economy is not giving anybody a reason to invest more as repaying bank loans is becoming more difficult now because of the harsh economy.
The investment banker turned hotelier regretted that many hotels under construction in Abuja are now abandoned because of the high cost of construction and lack of funding to complete them by the owners.
Read also: Tinubu to ministers : Perform or leave
“Yes, hotels are a money-spinning business, but cost of operation consumes a huge percentage of the profit, especially power, it is killing businesses. The banks and the EFCC will be busy soon taking over and sealing hotels, whose owners cannot repay loans. Jobs are at stake too in this bad time. Sad,” he lamented.
The petty trader, food vendor, hawker, and all kinds of business in the country are feeling the impact of the devalued currency and low purchasing power, which is even getting lower since May 29th.
As expected, the suffering in the land is unspeakable.
But the government keeps saying that it is working to make life better for Nigerians and with policies that will lift the economy in the long run.
One of the initiatives by the government to reduce the suffering in the land is the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (PCNGI), whose establishment was approved on August 18, 2023 by President Bola Tinubu to facilitate nationwide adoption of gas-powered vehicles, a supposedly cheaper source of fuel.
There were also promises of deployment of compressed natural gas (CNG) consumption buses across the nation to cut transport costs.
So far, the federal government has ordered about 3,000 units of 20-seater buses, many vehicles in Benin are now running on Compressed Natural Gas, according to Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State governor.
Tunji Oyebanji, chief executive officer,11 Plc, confirmed that CNG is affordable and economical, hence enjoined Nigerians to convert their petrol-powered vehicles to CNG.
The challenge for many is that the price of gas has never been stable, though cheaper than fuel and the issue of caution as gas is more inflammable than the premium motor spirit, better known as fuel.
For now, Nigerians are still buying fuel at high prices, until CNG vehicles are commonplace and gas prices stable.
Probably, by January 2024, when the Student Loan Scheme approved on June 12, 2023 by President Tinubu takes off, students and parents will sigh in relief.
The Nigerian public university community may be smiling with the recent partial waiver of the “No Work, No Pay” Order instituted against the Academic Staff Union of Universities for the eight-month strike in 2022.
The waiver, approved by President Tinubu, allows the previously striking members of ASUU to receive four months of salary accruals out of the eight months of salary, which was withheld during the eight-month industrial action undertaken by the union.
Again, with President Tinubu’s halting of electricity tariff increase and insistence on nationwide power consumption subsidies, Nigerians are not going to pay more for electricity.
But Lukas Yohana, an economist, decried that it means subsidies are back, the stealing continues, while making a mess of the economic reformation agenda of President Tinubu.
“On May 29th, President Tinubu offered us his economic blueprint that will revive the economy, amid supporting policies and immediate removal of subsidy on petrol.
“But sustaining subsidies again means there is policy somersault, which I think will hurt the economy more than when he carries on with his reforms. Why remove petrol subsidy in the first place, why start a journey and abort it soon. I think Nigerians are going to suffer for any bad policy more now than before because of the struggling economy.
The government should be firm, now that they have been approved by the Supreme Court. The fate of poor masses are in their hands,” Yohana, a university don, said.
There are other initiatives by the present administration to reduce the suffering in the land, but they are yet to make an impact, especially the long term ones.
But whether short or long term, Nigerians are in need of relief from the huge burden of the economic hardship and they look up to the present administration to do that as a matter of urgency and their responsibility, some concerned citizens insisted.