• Says neighbouring countries, smugglers greatest beneficiaries of subsidy
  • Says labour should channel action to good use of fuel subsidy savings

Friday Olokor, Abuja

The Christian Association of Nigeria on Thursday called on Nigerians to bear with President Bola Tinubu and give him a chance to fix the country.

The organisation also commended Tinubu for taking proactive steps to avert the proposed strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, over fuel subsidy removal pains.

CAN advised the NLC and TUC that if there was any need for a call to action, it should be for the judicious and accountable use of the funds that would otherwise have been used to subsidise fuel.

The Chairman, Lagos State chapter of CAN and Methodist Bishop of Ikeja Diocese, Stephen Adegbite, raised the issues during a press conference in Abuja.

While describing the fuel subsidy as “a misadventure profiting the rich and politically connected,” he said the issue became worsened when regional neighbours and smugglers started enjoying opulent returns at the expense of the citizenry.

According to him, Tinubu’s invitation to the leaders of NLC and TUC for private discussion which resulted in a truce, thus ending the nationwide protest, was commendable.

He said the President’s action was an indication that he is a listening leader that is interested in getting things done in national interest.

Adegbite, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to give the President a chance to fix the country once and for all.

He said, “I have keenly followed the socio-economic developments in our country since May 29, 2023, when the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the reigns of governance.

“The President had, on assuming office, made his now famous ‘fuel subsidy is gone’ pronouncement in his inaugural speech and since then, fuel prices have twice gone up in line with the dictates of market forces.

“The step he took was one majority of Nigerians had agreed needed to be taken. It was increasingly obvious that the subsidy regime was not benefiting the masses it was originally designed to benefit.”

He added, “The truth is that the fuel subsidy misadventure was profiting the rich, the politically connected, and even worse, our regional neighbours and smugglers who enjoyed opulent returns at the expense of the citizenry.

“Basically, the masses who were supposed to benefit from the subsidy were not the primary or secondary beneficiaries, but the saddest part is that the people have somehow been hoodwinked and deceived into believing that the fraud of subsidy was in their favour.

“It is against this background that I commend President Tinubu for inviting NLC and TUC leaders for follow-up discussions after organized labour went ahead with protest marches, despite his nationwide broadcast.”

Adegbite stated that Tinubu is a  listening president who provided clarity to the leaders of the NLC and TUC, over matters that were unclear.

He mentioned, “I find it assuring that he used the opportunity to provide clarity on a number of things labour leaders felt were not clear enough.

“This, in my view, shows that we indeed have a listening President who is interested in getting things done in national interest.”

Adegbite acknowledged that labour brought up the issue of refineries in its criticism of President Tinubu’s recent nationwide broadcast and for which its leaders have heard that the Port Harcourt refineries will be ready by December 2023.

The NLC, he said, should be aware that all the nation’s four refineries were being revamped under an arrangement entered into by the former administration of Muhammadu Buhari with different timelines.

Adegbite said, “So it is clear that there is a plan on ground to ensure local refining of petroleum. It is good to know that labour has resolved to suspend its protest marches.

“So my message to NLC and TUC is that if there is any need for a call to action, it should be for the judicious and accountable use of the funds that would otherwise have been used to subsidise fuel.”

“We can’t be complaining about a deficit of social infrastructure and amenities as well as low wages for civil servants, and at the same time be opposed to efforts to improve the quality and availability of same,” the state CAN chairman said.