President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday gave marching orders to the National Economic Council (NEC) to immediately work out palliatives to mitigate the effects of petrol subsidy removal.
He met for the first time with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) members.
The governors, who President Tinubu mandated to end poverty in their states, restated their backing for subsidy removal.
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun told reporters that the President hinted at the instruction to NEC during the meeting with the governors.
A statement by the Director of Information at the State House, Abiodun Oladunjoye, quoted the President as saying: “We can see the effects of poverty on the faces of our people.
“Poverty is not hereditary, it is from the society. Our position is to eliminate poverty.
“Set aside partisan politics. We are here to deliberate about Nigeria and nation-building. We are a family occupying one house, and sleeping in different rooms.
“If we see it that way and push forward, we will get our people out of poverty. A determined mind is a fertile ground for delivering results.”
The President said good governance would safeguard the future of democracy.
“Present in this room is our diversity in culture and politics, but we are one nation. The unity and stability of the country rest upon us.
“We are in a democracy and we have to nurture the democracy. It is a hard-earned system and not easy to manage.
“If anyone thinks it is easy, look at other nations who are over a hundred years in democracy.
“We have managed ourselves very well to have a democracy. We have campaigned and arrived at our present destination. We must work for our people,” President Tinubu told the governors while assuring them that he would maintain an open-door policy.
The President said he was prepared to share ideas, strengthen institutions, and create bottom-up frameworks that will improve the livelihood of Nigerians.
“What do we do in the face of crushing poverty? What do we do with our development goals? We took the bull by the horns by removing the elephant in the room before the nation sinks.
“We need synergy to fight other vices like corruption. We are trying to get smugglers out of the way.
“How do we work together to galvanise the economy, and put resources in place? We must think and perform.
“After removing subsidy, there must be savings accruing to the Federation Account,” he said.
President Tinubu said the education sector must be improved as part of efforts to reduce poverty and penury.
He added: “How do we address the unacceptable level of poverty? How much are we investing in education, which is the only tool against poverty? I am ready to collaborate with you.”
The governors, led by its chairman, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, expressed happiness with the President’s subsidy-removal decision, all-inclusive leadership and statesmanship.
“The NGF will follow the tradition of working constitutionally and harmoniously with you,’’ he said.
At the meeting were governors Dauda Lawal (Zamfara), Abba Yusuf (Kano), Agbu Kefas (Taraba), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Others are Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Rev. Ft. Hyacinth Alia (Benue), Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), Peter Mbah (Enugu), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Nasiru Idris (Kebbi), Alex Otti (Abia), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
The deputy governors of Edo, Philip Shaibu and of Niger, Yakubu Garba, represented their states.
Abiodun yesterday led members of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) to the President.
The Ogun governor said President Tinubu asked for a coordinated approach between the government, through the NEC and the economic team, and petroleum marketers, to structure out a wholesome intervention.
For the long term, he said Nigeria should consider an energy transition to compressed natural gas (CNG).
Abiodun said: “Mr President has announced today that NEC should immediately begin to sit, led by Vice President Kashim Shettima.
“He directed that the committee of NEC, alongside the economic team and the marketers should sit down and come up with a wholesome approach that will be beneficial to the common man and the generality of Nigerians.
“Whatever it is, be it minimum wage increase, be it transport allowance, be it the provision of any form of intervention, are only stopgaps.
“What we need to begin to look at is energy transition for the whole country.
“We need to begin to look at what obtains in other countries like Egypt, where they have converted all their mass transit to run on CNG.
“In some other countries, their vehicles are running on either CNG or running on electricity.
“That will be sustainable and will allow us to transport people, goods and services at reasonable prices.
“That is the kind of thing that we are looking at, the kind of discussions that we’re having with Mr President and the kind of approach that this administration is looking at in terms of sustainability.”
Abiodun also met with Labour leaders in Ogun.
He said his administration was looking into ways of cushioning the post-subsidy removal hardship.
The governor said: “We are not, as a responsible administration unmindful of the consequences that the regulation would cause in terms of its effect on the disposable income of the workers.
“We have noted that the price of Petrol is now N500 from slightly above N200.
“There is a relationship between the cost of PMS and transportation and cost of transportation and cost of goods and services.
“Since the announcement, as the governor and a player in the industry, I have been concerned about the multiplier effects as it would affect workers going to and from work and how it would affect their responsibilities and wellbeing.”