President Jonathan “Appreciates the Pain of the People”, but Insists on Fuel Subsidy Removal
News that Nigeria’s government plans on pulling out the fuel subsidy has had the nation abuzz for the past few months, sparking passionate debates across the country, with many claiming the fuel subsidy removal will further task the impoverished citizens of the oil-rich African country.
Nerves were set even further on edge when President Goodluck, in his 2012 Budget presentation, made no mention of bringing back the fuel subsidy.
President Goodluck Jonathan now seeks to calm Nigerians and explain, once again, the importance of pulling out the subsidy.
Speaking at the 2011 Christmas Carol Service held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa last night, the President assured the rapt audience that his administration will not be party to inflicting pains on Nigerians, but warned that the country could no longer borrow to fund its economy.
“Yes, I am here in the State House and being fed by the government, but that does not keep me so far from the people, there is no day that I don’t interact with Nigerians, both low and high and I appreciate the pains of the people,” the President said.
He said the controversial move was necessary if the country expects to survive the global economic crisis, and called on religious and political leaders to get on board the plan, which he says, is in the best interest of the economy.
“We are facing challenges,” the President said, “but we must take certain decisions to reposition our economy so that things will ease out. If we don’t have the courage to do so then we will continue to be dying in pains until God knows when.”
Jonathan stressed that as society advanced, the demand for various resources has also expanded, but Government is unable to meet the demands.
“Government has been borrowing money to run its affairs and the amount we borrow continues to increase,” President Jonathan said.
Despite the wealth garnered from current oil depots and reserves, the President says the country will be unable to continue its spending habits for much longer, without enslaving future generations to debt.
“Do we begin to plan a country where our children and grandchildren will become slaves? Even now Nigerians are running out of this country,” the President stressed.
Keeping with the theme of job creation in non-oil sectors, President Jonathan urged the nation to look toward creating “wealth through farming”, and coming up with innovative ways to engage the unemployed youth, produce more and import less.
All this will require funds, he says – funds that the nation can no longer afford to borrow.
“I believe we cannot continue to borrow. In fact last year our capital budget was N1.146 trillion and we borrowed the whole capital budget, and even a little more.
Jonathan referred to the N560billion allocated in the budget toward paying down the nation’s debt, saying it covers “just about half of the money we borrowed”.
He said the current economy situation in the country calls for financial prudence, including the fuel subsidy removal.
President Jonathan said while the country might “experience some minor pains for some months”, but was necessary in the long run