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Nigerians may have to brace themselves for tough times next year, according to Festus Keyamo, Spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, who revealed that discussions on the removal of fuel subsidies will begin next year.
Keyamo, who is also the Minister of State for Labour, made the announcement on Tuesday during the launch of The Progressives Forum in Abuja. He revealed that the government now pays salaries with revenue from Customs, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and other sources.
The Minister admitted that petroleum subsidies were no longer viable, claiming that they had eaten deeply into the country’s economy.
Keyamo stated: “As a progressive party, we believe there must be intervention in the lives of the very poor and the middle class. That is why we have conditional cash transfers to the very poor. That is the philosophy of President Muhammadu Buhari, that is the philosophy of APC. We care a lot for the poor.
“If it were to be other government existing today as I speak with you, there would be no subsidy now. But President Muhammadu Buhari said before we remove it, we need to put some measures in place to cushion the effect on the poor. Because there is no longer any justification to retain subsidy as I speak with you today.”
Keyamo added that even in the United States and the United Kingdom, the prices of petroleum have gone up more than four or five times. He added: “We are in government, we cannot hide it again from the masses, from the people. We must all keep saying that subsidy has eaten deep into our country, into our economy.
“Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is no longer remitting money to Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC). So all the money they earn goes to subsidy. So, the government has to rely on revenue from Customs, from Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), from others to pay salaries and other things.”
But it is still the sympathy that the President has for the poor because he feels that we have to put measures in place to cushion the effect on the poor before they remove subsidy. And that is why they’ve pushed it to sometime next year. The conversation on how to remove subsidy will begin.”