There is a popular saying: “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created it”. In reaction to the hike in fuel price, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has asked the Federal Government to revert to the N121 old price at which petrol was sold during the lockdown to control COVID -19. The leadership of the NLC rejected the new upward reviewed pricing band for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol. In a statement that reads: “We demand that the Federal Government reverts to the old price of N121 given during the lockdown associated with COVID-19 pandemic which Nigerians who were mainly confined in their houses hardly enjoyed. “We also renew our call for a national conversation on the management of our oil assets which we insist must be in tandem with the provisions our country’s constitution which clearly mandates that the commanding heights of our national economy must be held by the government in the interest of the citizens of Nigeria,” the NLC said. The President, Ayuba Wabba, stated that the latest increase in the price of petrol was a crass display of complete apathy to the sufferings Nigerians are going through at this time.
He said: “This latest increase in the price of petrol is indeed a crass display of complete apathy to the sufferings Nigerians are going through at this time. While other countries also going through the blues of the Covid-19 pandemic are reducing taxes, increasing welfare benefits and providing palliatives to their citizens, our own government is reducing interest rates on savings by the poor, increasing taxes and hiking tariffs on essential goods and services. Nigerians have never had it so bad”. Here are a list suggestions that should be adopted if we are serious about this tackling this socio-political and economic quagmire.
1. GET THE REFINERIES WORKING; There is no gainsaying about the fact that the starting point to solving the subsidy regime and fuel price economic puzzle is to fix the refineries. When the refineries are working, subsidies are automatically eliminated and other related freight and landing cost will cease. The government is better off, the citizens are less burdened and the economy enjoys the positive economics of scale that comes with local Transformation of crude to multiple refined products.
2. RAILWAY COMPLETION; The use of fuel is chiefly jeered towards the transportation of human and cargo. Most nations of the world who have managed to escape this cyclical economic glitch of subsidy, have provided the railway as a means of alternative source of movement of humans and goods. The use of effective and durable trains are usually powered by non- premium motor spirit (PMS), unlike most vehicles being used by both private and commercial motorists today. The federal government must expedite actions on the spread and completion of railway projects across the country.
3. BLOCK CORRUPTION AND INEFFICIENCY; An author once said: “Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem”. At the heart of the excruciating effect on the increase in pump price of fuel is corruption. unless and until the hydra-headed monster called corruption is removed, the other associated symptoms of moribund refinery, over-invoicing, inflated import duties, dubious crude swap deals and general bribery and corruption, we will continue to witness the periodic groaning of Nigerians as a result of hike in pump price of fuel which culminates in high cost of living cum industrial unrest. Like President Buhari like say: “If we dont killl corruption, corruption Will kill us”.
4. PAYING WITH CORRUPTION PROCEEDS; The amount of money we see and hear about as recovered proceeds of corruption is mindbogling. The cash both in local and hard currency are enough to ameliorate the plight of the masses, the proceeds must be plugged into the differences of price of PMS and the associated cost of importation. There are also landed properties and other assets scattered all over the globe that can be converted to liquid to foot the bill being transferred to the over- burdened masses. The unending “Abacha loot” that churns out every year is another area to be redirected to correct the fuel price management.
5. INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE; Every single component of the demand side of the Nigerian economy has increased but the purchasing power parity of the average consumer has remained static. From water, electricity, pre-paid tv subscription, general foodstuffs in the market and logistics have all skyrocketed. The average civil servant is disoriented in terms of ability and willingness to demand to for basic needs of Life. The private sector is worse off, most private firms apart from the blue chips pay little to peanuts. We operate an economy that leaves majority of the actors with little or no options to choose from. Before the increase, the average Nigeria worker live a little above penury, with the hike in the pump price of fuel, they are being suffocated. I dare say: ” Nigerians cant breath”, the government must as a matter of urgency, implement an upward review of salaries and wages to assuage the conditions of its citizens.
The time has come for labour leaders to think out of the box, creativity beckons, top-notch thinking caps is required to navigate this water once and for all. Enough of this recurring decimal that does the government and the governed no good. Like Karen Salmansohn, an author and award-winning designer once said: “When you have a solution thinking mindset and choose to focus 80% of your thoughts/words on solutions – you will not only be heading more speedily to long-term success, but you will immediately feel better in the moment”.