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FROM FEMI GBAJABIMILLA

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Wsj
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:31 pm

FROM FEMI GBAJABIMILLA

Unread postby Wsj » Mon May 16, 2016 9:41 pm

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.....I was at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday May 11th where a stakeholders meeting involving the leadership of the National Assembly, governors, Labour leadership, minister of state for Petroleum, ministers of Information and that of labour held. The meeting was chaired by the Vice President. It was a consultative meeting ostensibly to get the buy in of stakeholders. I was pumped and ready to challenge any proposition for an increase in pump price and my position was known to most people I spoke with.
However by the time the Honourable minister for petroleum finished his doomsday prognosis and gave a graphic account supported with facts and figures of where we are and where we would be in a matter of months if we did not alter the approach or fundamentally change the status quo, I had no option but to capitulate. It was the first time I had been confronted with such a gloomy picture. I found myself between a rock and a hard place. The facts were incontrovertible and the prognosis and consequences dire. We were in an economic cul-de-sac and the country was spiraling down fast due to no fault of this present administration. In fact it was clear that any responsible administration needed to apply the brakes, bring this to a screeching and painful halt and at least for now remove subsidy and deregulate. It was a short term remedy which, all things being equal, would produce a long term solution when the economy would have recalibrated. I struggled with my inner angel and knew this was the only way out. It was made abundantly clear to all seated that in two months there would be no federal allocation to states and no state would be able to pay salaries, including the buoyant ones. The Nigerian nation was on tenterhooks. That’s how bad a picture it was. Indeed I was the first to ask questions after the presentation still looking for a way out when I knew there was none.
Whilst I still believe in the principles I held on to so passionately years ago, including the need to bring any deregulation exercise in conformity with the law and the constitution, I believe this is such a time when we should look at the times we are in and our practical situation as a country. I believe (without sounding Trumpist) that Nigeria will be great again but we must rejig and reboot our economy and take another look at the subsidy regime. Many will say, but why did some of us kick in 2012 and if it was not good then why is it good now? It’s a great question and they are right, but again the times are different. In 2012, we were earning a lot of money from oil. Oil was selling at about 100 dollars or thereabout. We had foreign exchange and petro dollars to continue with subsidy. Now things are different. The economy is comatose and Nigeria is on life support. Oil is selling at below 40 dollars and the currency (dollar) needed to purchase the refined petrol is no longer available.
I want to plead with my constituents and all Nigerians to work with government. You are the most important stakeholders, never mind those of us that gathered around a long table and cushy chairs in the Vice President’s Office on Wednesday May 11th to take this far reaching decision. We did so only in a representative capacity. I urge that you please give this government the benefit of doubt and lets take a chance on whether or not the analogy and parallel often drawn by proponents of deregulation in the oil industry to telecommunications industry may end up a truism and that the price of fuel in a laissez-faire, free market will come crashing in months. Lets consider it a temporary sacrifice for the greater good, with the hope that as promised we will be better off in the long term. This problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is instructive that other oil producing countries e.g. Bahrain, have been hit hard by the crash in oil price and are towing the same line and reviewing their subsidy policies.
With this new development I intend to fight with all I have for a review of the minimum wage of all workers in Nigeria. Our country was built on social justice and I cannot, no matter the realities, accept a situation where the cost of living will be increased without a corresponding increase in wages. The sacrifices that we need to make must be comprehensive. Indeed I believe the “wealthy” must not only pay their fair share of taxes, if need be, there must be an upward review of taxes paid by the highest income earners to enable government review the wages of those on the lower rung. It is time to be our brothers’ keepers.
I know this is a painful road to take and I hate that I have to flip flop on this one, but isn’t what they say “no pain, no gain”.

Femi Gbajabiamila is Leader of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Abuja


vanhealn
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:42 pm

Re: FROM FEMI GBAJABIMILLA

Unread postby vanhealn » Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:00 pm

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