News / Africa

Nigeria Moving to Drop Fuel Subsidy, Trade Unions Object

People wait buy kerosene at a petrol station in Lagos, Nigeria, July 4, 2011.
People wait buy kerosene at a petrol station in Lagos, Nigeria, July 4, 2011.

Nigeria is moving to stop a $7.5 billion consumer-fuel subsidy because the government says it can better spend those funds improving public services. Trade unions oppose the move, saying it will force up the cost of living.  

Africa's largest oil producer refines little of its own petroleum. So Nigerian governments have traditionally subsidized the cost of imported fuel to keep consumer prices at about 40 cents per liter.

In its medium-term fiscal report to parliament, Nigeria's budget office says those subsidies will next year cost the government $7.5 billion at a time when rising demand for dollars to purchase refined fuel is making it harder to maintain the value of the Nigerian currency.

So President Goodluck Jonathan's government says it intends to do away with fuel subsidies and spend the money instead on social services and infrastructure.

Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi is a member of Nigeria's National Economic Council which supports the move.

"We believe it is in the interest of this country," said Amaechi. "We will save money for the development of the economy. And at the end of the day we will provide opportunities for the greater percentage of Nigerians.”

Chief Solomon Osiobe says Nigerians should give up their dependency on subsidized fuel for the greater good.

"We Nigerians, we try to make sacrifices for the good of the nation," said Osiobe. "It is good that we make some sacrifice so that means we can move forward. So this removal of fuel subsidy I am in total support of it if it will bring progress to this country.”

Nigerian trade unions are threatening nationwide strikes if fuel subsidies are dropped. Local government worker Evelyn Akpoku says Nigerians can not afford the higher costs that would follow.

"Right now, the people are facing hardship," said Akpoku. "They are unable to even cook with this kerosene problem. Removing the subsidy will increase their problems. Transport will increase. Food will increase because the transporter will have to get his money from the populous who will be boarding their vehicles.”

University of Abuja economics and political science lecturer Abubakar Sadiq Abba says government must convince Nigerians that it will not misuse the money saved.

"Are we sure the leaders in Nigeria are going to utilize this particular amount that they are going to accrue from the removal of subsidy judiciously and prudently? These are questions that every Nigerian is asking,” said Abba.

Economists who favor eliminating the subsidy say it mostly benefits a cabal of a few hundred fuel traders who are getting rich off the price support. Abba says that is no excuse.

"If the government knows this cabal, if the government knows these people why can't they be arrested? Why can't they be prosecuted,” he said.

Local government worker Akpoku agrees.

“What does the federal government mean by the fuel subsidy money going to the wrong hands?  The federal government is in charge," said Apoku. "He should find out who the wrong hands are and then remove the money from the wrong hands and send it to the right hands.”

Rivers State Governor Amaechi says those few Nigerians who benefit disproportionately from the fuel subsidy will only grow richer if it is kept in place because of what he says are legitimate concerns over how that money will otherwise be spent.

"What will be the outcome? What are you going to do to improve on the lives of the people," said Amaechi. "If that is the conversation, they have the governors on their side. But if it is to say, 'No, leave the subsidy the way it is,” and a few Nigerians are benefiting from it to the detriment of over 140 million Nigerians, I won't agree to that.”

National Planning Minister Shamsudeen Usman says the government is working with trade unions to put in place economic safety nets to protect lower income Nigerians from higher fuel costs.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs