Rep. Agbese pleaded with organised labour to allow for dialogue and be patient with President Tinubu’s administration as it is still in its early days,
The Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep. Philip Agbese (APC, Benue), has called on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and Nigerians to support President Bola Tinubu on the subsidy removal, as the decision was in the country’s best interest and will soon be celebrated.
Agbese, who represents Ado/ Okpokwu/ Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue state, made the call while speaking to newsmen on Thursday, in Abuja.
He also pleaded with NLC to sheath its sword and embrace the policy for the development and progress of the country.
According to the lawmaker, fuel subsidy removal was long overdue even though it was an old policy of the nation since the 1970s, with the government routinely selling petrol to citizens at low cost to minimize the impact of rising global oil prices.
He also noted that available figures indicate that the Buhari administration (2015-2023) paid a subsidy of over N11.4 trillion, more than what the government spent on education, health, and infrastructure during the period under review.
“President Tinubu must be commended for taking the bold step to save the future of our nation. Fuel subsidy was no longer sustainable.
“It is on record that about N40.1 billion is spent daily to subsidize every liter of petrol consumed in Nigeria by at least, N600. It means the government spends about N1.24 trillion on fuel subsidies monthly.”
Agbese, who stated that fuel subsidy constitute 50% of the nation’s problem, acknowledged that President Tinubu’s decision to end the regime came with hardship, but reckoned that Nigerians will celebrate in the long run.
“The country is in massive debt and would need more money to subsidize fuel. According to the World Bank, the government is projected to achieve fiscal savings of approximately two trillion naira ($2.6 billion) in 2023, equivalent to 0.9% of GDP. These savings are expected to reach over 11 trillion naira ($14.3bn) by the end of 2025.
“This will be invested in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Indeed, the advantages of the removal of subsidy would not just come up immediately. It is not possible because the economy is not strong. We don’t have money to start implementing measures that will ameliorate the removal of the subsidy.
“However, we must look beyond the present. The future of our great nation is at stake. I want to commend President Tinubu for this brave decision. In a matter of time, Nigerians will smile.”
Speaking on the planned strike by Organized labour, Agbese urged the body not to succumb to agents of destabilization, assuring that the resources saved from the policy would be channeled to developmental programs.
“Let me also use this opportunity to appeal to the Organised Labour not to succumb to agents of destabilization, who want to pull us back. The issue of palliatives and better welfare for all citizens is paramount before the Asiwaju government.
“Our nation cannot withstand another mass action. We are trying to build, not destroy. The Labour should, therefore, give dialogue a chance and at least be patient with this administration. It is still early days,” Agbese implored.