14 July 2014, Abuja – Six weeks after the Senate committee on finance chaired by Senator Ahmed Makarfi submitted its report to the Upper House on the unmerited $49.8 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Senate last week, debated the report extensively and rejected the total removal of subsidy.
Recall that in 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidy on the grounds that it will save the country N.1.134 trillion which he claimed will be used to develop infrastructural development which would in turn lead to the creation of job opportunities .
Subsidy has been defined as aids directly granted by government to an individual or private commercial enterprise deemed beneficial to the public. It is also a grant or gift of money from a government to a private company, organization, or charity to help it function.
In relation to fuel subsidy, it can be said to mean the financial aid granted to autonomous and foremost oil marketers by the government for them to supply their products at a cheaper rate for the benefit of the masses.
This move is always aimed at boosting the economy of a country, providing social amenities for the people, stabilizing the market, creation of employment opportunities.
The president argued that a cabal of Nigerian businessmen were benefiting from the fuel subsidy regime. But Nigerians resisted the move as they took to the streets to protest what they perceived as government’s injustice to the poor masses. Their argument was that the timing was wrong.
Regardless, even though one of the recommendations of the Makarfi committee’s report was that that subsidy should be removed, most senators argued that it should be sustained. Rather, they argued, those found to be benefiting illegally from the subsidy regime should be punished
On his part Senate President David Mark called for caution and insisted that if it has to go, the masses should be sensitised enough to know the benefits and otherwise of the move.
– Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, Leadership