Thursday, 15 November 2012

Finally, fuel subsidy to go – Jonathan

Amidst the persistent fuel scarcity in major cities of the country, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sent clear signals that the government is about to implement full removal of fuel subsidy, just as he stressed the need for a total deregulation of the downstream sector in order to attract investors to the petroleum sector and end importation of the products.
The President, who said this when he received the report of the 2012 Participants of the Senior Executive Course 34 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPS) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, noted that even though total removal of fuel subsidy would be painful, Nigerians would be happier for it.
“Why is it that people are not building refineries in Nigeria despite the fact that it is a big business? It is because of the policy of subsidy, and that is why we want to get out of it. To change a nation is like surgery. If you have a young daughter of five years who has a boil at a very strategic part of the face. You either, as a parent, leave that boil because the young girl will cry or you take the girl to the surgeon.
“So, you have the option of just rubbing mentholatum on the face until the boil will bust and disfigure her face, or you take that child to the surgeon. On the sighting of a scalpel of the surgeon alone, the child will start crying. But if she bears the pains and do the incision and treat it, after some days or weeks, the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady,” he explained.

He said there are certain decisions that government must take that would be painful at the beginning, but people must be properly informed so that they would be ready to bear the pains.
He said the country would witness a turn-around within 10 years once the right policies are put in place, stressing that “you do not need a lifetime to change a nation.”
“Under 10 years, Nigeria can change and people will not even believe that this is Nigeria again. Immediately you come up with strong policies in key sectors of the economy and keep it for 10 years, the change will be astronomical,” he assured.
Earlier in their presentation, the participants had called on the federal government to take proactive steps to address the country’s over-dependent on crude oil and natural gas.
“Nigeria needs to reduce its level of dependency on crude oil and expand development of its rich non-oil sectors. Human resources is key to diversification,” the participants said.
The participants emphasised the need for research and development, saying it was key to improving the economy, and called on the president to ensure that the terms and conditions of the Performance Contract Agreement he recently signed with ministers are strictly enforced.
The participants also called on the president to intensify efforts in tackling the spate of insecurity that has been a source of worry to the country and international community.
They also noted in a report entitled, “Resource Diversification for Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria,” that the current security situation in the country was disincentive to businesses and investments.
The participants identified unemployment as one of the greatest threats to security in the country, and called on the government to address the situation with immediate effect.
“One of the greatest threats to security is unemployment. It provides for unemployed youths and other disgruntled persons to attack the system which they believe is responsible for their plights,” the participants observed.
The participants also called on the federal government to strengthen trans-border security through bilateral agreements in order to aid its fight against insecurity.
They also expressed concern over the level of security at the airports across the country, saying they are characterised by porous perimeter fences, poor Closed Circuit Televisions and lacked the capacity to counter terrorism.

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