As the country deals with the impact that the recent removal of fuel subsidy is having on Nigerians, it is clear that the palliatives put forth by the current government are simply not enough to tackle the pervasive poverty that has plagued most Nigerians in our nation for years.
The decision to remove subsidy without a proper plan in place has only exacerbated the already dire situation for scores of millions of Nigerians.
The consequences of this abrupt policy change are evident in the daily lives of our people. Many can no longer afford the basic necessities, such as food, healthcare, and education. We cannot simply rely on vague suggestions to mitigate the impact; it is imperative that the government takes swift action to ensure that this courageous move to remove subsidy does not disproportionately affect the citizens especially those on low incomes and those on the verge of survival.
While the eventual removal of fuel subsidy may be inevitable, it must be carried out in a manner that does not further deteriorate the standard of living for millions of Nigerians. The current palliatives package so far announced fall short in addressing the deep-rooted issues of poverty that have been in place ahead of the current administration’s advent.
It is essential for the current administration to step forward with a reliable plan and properly executed measures that prioritise the well-being of Nigerians like never before. What is required is not a mere plan for palliatives but a comprehensive emergency economic transformational programme with far reaching capabilities to significantly benefit the mass majority of our people.
To make this happen is a uphill task indeed and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a critical role to play in spearheading the efforts, ensuring that no Nigerian is left behind during this period of adjustment.
With a strategic plan in place, subsidy removal can serve as a stepping stone towards prosperity and inclusivity for all Nigerians. The implementation of effective palliatives should encompass various aspects of society such as provision of financial aid to vulnerable individuals and families, investment in programmes that facilitate employment opportunities, strengthening existing social welfare initiatives, such that Nigerians have access to healthcare, education, and housing, improving transportation and public utilities, stimulating agricultural productivity alongside other economic transformational ideas.
Many of the leaders and spokespersons from different sectors of the society are coming out to speak against the administration simply because the plan to cushion the effect seems like mere token gestures.
The President must ensure that he turns this economic emergency into a transformational opportunity by taking advantage of the fuel subsidy removal and use this as a catalyst for comprehensive reforms, tackling the root causes of poverty and bridging the gap between the rich and the marginalised.
Looked at in a broader perspective, this is indeed a pivotal moment for Nigeria to break free from the cycle of dependence on subsidies and foster a more sustainable and inclusive economy, and to achieve this will require demonstration of strong leadership and the evolving of a robust plan that not only cushions the impact of subsidy removal but also sets a solid foundation for a prosperous future where poverty gradually becomes a thing of the past.
Okesanjo is a Strategy Consultant