This was received with mixed feelings from Nigerians, even though in recent times, many have clamoured for its removal, as allegations of embezzlements and false claims trailed the subsidy payments to the oil marketers.
Arinze Justin, a tricycle operator, believes the removal is the right thing to do, considering the present economic situation of the country.
“It is sadly obvious that the foreign exchange issue has affected the cost of living badly and whatever gains would have been derived from the removal has been greatly eroded. I still believe this is a step in the right direction.
“However, if the monies saved are used appropriately, we might still benefit.”
He agreed that the New Year would be tough for a lot of businesses and families, as the naira continues its free fall, but believes the improvements would come later, as “nothing good comes easy.”
Making reference to the telecoms sector, Arinze said Nigerians were being ripped off initially, but that has changed over the years.
He called on the Buhari government to fix the refineries, as was promised before the elections, saying this would help the situation even more.
Noah Akano, secretary general of the Nnobi Taxi Park in Surulere, Lagos, believes the removal of the subsidy is a right step.
“Paying those huge amounts of money to the marketers is too much. It is well known to us that most of the marketers don’t supply any fuel, but collect the money and this is a waste to the federal government and our collective resources.
“I am happy the subsidy is being removed. We just hope that the government doesn’t embezzle the money but use it for the right purposes.”
Akano insisted that the removal would not affect transportation fares, adding the pump price was still reasonable.
He also reckoned that Nigerians have to suffer several inconveniences before the rewards could be felt, if the government were to succeed; hence he admonished Nigerians to be patient, as a lot of things had gone wrong in the past and would take time to set aright.
Agnes Mosobolaje, a trader at Balogun Market in Lagos, whole-heartedly supports the removal of subsidy.
Mosobolaje hopes this would help the economy positively since more cash would be available for the government to undertake capital projects and improve the spending power of the common man.
But a top financial expert based in Lagos, Niyi Adekeye, urged caution, saying there wouldn’t be much impact felt yet, either positive or negative, as just 50 kobo was removed from the pump price.
He said the danger in the removal is that when the crude oil price rises globally and there is no subsidy to cushion it, Nigerians would be subjected to the prevailing market price.
“So, if the prices go up globally, with our present forex exchange, the pump price would go up and if the price of crude drops, the pump price drops as well,” he added.
Adekeye continued: “We shouldn’t be talking about subsidy in this country. We have the crude and the refineries to service and produce for local consumption.
“We shouldn’t be importing PMS, as it is this factor that is forcing the price of the product up. If the refineries were working, as they should, the government can fix a reasonable price and would still make more than enough profit.
“If the refineries are not fixed and subsidy has been removed and the country is still importing fuel, Nigerians are going to suffer more hardship.
“This plan is going to backfire if we don’t move from our over-dependency on imported fuel and produce and consume locally refined fuel.”
Adekeye further noted that Nigerians ordinarily shouldn’t be affected or have our pump price controlled by external forces or international oil prices, but this would only be possible if the refineries were working at optimal level.
He lamented the greed of the marketers, who dictate the market prices according to the foreign exchange and kept the country totally dependent on fuel importation, because of the money they make from such.
Adekeye said the only way for the removal of subsidy to work and benefit Nigerians in the end, is for the government to ensure the refineries work and produced enough for local consumption and ban the importation of fuel, so that no marketer holds the country to ransom.