Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, a former presidential candidate and prominent businessman, has made an earnest appeal to the Labour Movement and other social groups to view the removal of petroleum product subsidies as a necessary but painful surgical procedure.
Drawing an analogy to a dangerous cancerous cell in a critically ill patient’s life, he emphasizes that this measure is essential to save the nation from further harm.
Issuing a statement from his media office in Abuja, Olawepo-Hashim highlights that the subsidy had already been eliminated in the 2023 budget during the previous administration.
He points out that the market has already adjusted to reflect the actual prices, leading to an overall increase in the prices of various items. This indicates the inevitability of the subsidy removal and the need to adapt to the new economic reality.
According to him, “even if the subsidy is reversed, prices of goods and services will not be reviewed to their previous levels and it would be a loss to the Economy.”
He added that “there cannot be any sensible talk about undoing what has been done but managing the pains of the adjustment on vulnerable groups such as Labour, who do not have the price mechanism for their services to absorb the pain.”
He noted that “as an enterpreneur, what I have done in my business is to pay immediately, a transport subsidy across board; same amount to all my workers without prejudice to their salary scale. I believe the Government and all employers of labour will do the same.”
He maintained that “there are far more benefits of removal of the subsidy to the economy, chief among which include massive investment in the mid and downstream sectors of the economy that hitherto have been locked out due to the subsidy regime.
These sectors, he argued, typically create millions of jobs and remain a critical section that add value to the Economy.
“In the past I have been a strident campaigner against removal of petrol subsidies because I had no trust in the ability of most of the previous governments to manage the gains of the exercise for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“The times are different now. Nigeria has a new political-Economic manager in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we can trust his ability to manage the exercise in the interest of all.
“Comrades, we have marched together in the past three and a half decades saying no to subsidy removal, but it is time to shift grounds; let us only insist on welfare and protection for the working class in the midst of this adjustment,” he said.
Olawepo-Hashim maintained that President Tinubu is an ally of the working class, adding that “it is time to move forward together in a direction that is well articulated in the Renewed Hope which Nigerian electorates democratically endorsed.”