The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday admitted that the increase in petrol pump price and electricity tariffs were a serious financial burden on Nigerians.
Yekini Nabena, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, in a statement pleaded with Nigerians to endure the pains as it claimed that they would enjoy the “gains” of deregulation in the long run.
The APC further claimed that rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries was in the pipeline and noted that full deregulation of the oil sector would encourage private investors to invest in the establishment of local refineries.
Ahead of planned strike by organised labour, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the ruling party urged labour leaders “not to be hoodwinked by skewed opposition party narratives on the deregulation exercise and electricity tariffs.”
The statement read in part: “The All Progressives Congress (APC) is not oblivious of the financial strains brought by the increase in fuel pump price and electricity rates. We urge Nigerians to endure now and enjoy gains soon.
“The reviews are crucial and hard thought decisions by government. On the positive side, the short and long-term benefits on the citizenry and our national life will become obvious and directly felt in critical sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and social services targeted at the poor.
“We point to shocking estimates by the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) which reports that the budget for fuel subsidies in 2019 was sufficient to enrol the entire population of Nigeria in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Further, fuel subsidies took over N10 trillion of our national resources since 2006.
“At least, the generality of Nigerians and stakeholders agree on a thousand and one reasons fuel subsidy has become unsustainable. The perceived benefits of fuel subsidies have long been overtaken by the previous corruption and drain on scarce resources that should be directed to other critical sectors.
“In line with the current administration’s deregulation drive and move to increase private-sector participation in the petroleum sector, the task before us now is to improve our local refining capacities which we are already on course to achieving and maintain a competitive, market-driven, transparent and accountable petroleum pricing template which meets global best practices, particularly in a developing country such as ours.
“While government works assiduously to solve the country’s electricity challenges permanently, it realises that many Nigerians and businesses still rely on alternative sources for power supply to meet electricity needs, hence its current focus on improving electricity and service delivery while also protecting poor and vulnerable Nigerians from arbitrary and estimated electricity billing.
“As with government’s decision to increase Nigerian worker’s minimum wage and other social investments, President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration takes the welfare of the citizenry seriously. We call on all stakeholders — government at all levels, private sector organisations, labour unions, civil societies, students and youth groups to support governments decision on the ongoing deregulation exercise as the citizens will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
“We urge stakeholders, particularly the organised labour such as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) not to be hoodwinked by skewed opposition party narratives on the deregulation exercise and electricity tariffs.
“The same partisans have failed to account for and return trillions of naira stolen from national coffers in the guise of subsidising fuel and the degrading of the electricity sector under their watch despite huge allocations and subsequent theft of the resources meant go improve the sector. We urge all to support the current administration’s economic policies to uplift Nigerians.”