by Jude Ayoka

As the FUEL SUBSIDY CRISIS lingers, it is important that both govt and labour shift some ground to enable us move forward as the crisis is taking a great toll on the masses both claim to work for.

There are 2 things everybody both from govt and the labour/civil society seems to agree.
1). The sudden hike in the price of fuel is very painful to the masses, it is a shock some people can hardly take.

2). Deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry if well implemented ...will be to the good of Nigeria and Nigerians esp in the long term.

There are also two facts.
1) If the govt announces reversion to N65 naira today, the masses may jubilate, but that alone won’t be real victory for the people. The problem is more than removal of fuel subsidy hence the solution should go beyond reinstatement of subsidy. The people should use this opportunity to set agenda for govt, extract commitment and put independent monitoring tools in place.

2) Govt should note that deregulation is not all about subsidy removal, some other aspects like building of private refineries cannot happen overnight hence subsidy should not be removed at once.

A way forward then should be to implement this in phases over a period and implementation monitored by labour/civil society. I will suggest 3 phases over 2 years starting from April.

What this means is that if the first third of the subsidy is removed; the govt and the people will agree on what the savings from the one third should be used to achieve in the next eight months. After this period if these measurable milestones have been achieved, then the second will be removed. If at the end of the second phase the set target is achieved then the second bit of the subsidy will also be removed and so on.

With this approach by the time the last phase of the subsidy would be removed the TAM of the refineries would have started yielding fruits and the new refineries being built by the private sector would have also been completed.

Govt should also provide a measurable and concrete road map on reducing govt spending on officials and Corruption.

This I believe will be a win win solution for both the people and the govt.

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