Despite making zero provision for fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget, the Federal Government is yet to determine the take-off date for the deregulation of the pricing of petrol.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting Wednesday, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, however, said the question of whether or not the subsidy would be removed was not contestable.
But rising from a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Tuesday night, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) said the government was not able to convince them that the policy would benefit the masses in any way.
Maku said subsidy has to be removed in order to save the economy, adding that the people were emotional about the positions which would further destroy what the country would want to build.
“No take-off date has been announced. The truth of the matter is that our country is in a very difficult economic situation. To continue to run Nigeria with one third of the budget set to subsidise one product is absolutely a path to a greater difficulty for the economy.
“We have continued to be talking about this because every sector we opened up has produced results. People who are emotionally talking about it are not actually addressing what we are saying. Let’s take the media, before now it was only NTA, until government deregulated broadcasting in the country. Before you could not set up a private radio station in this country or a television station, when a government deregulated, what do we have today? We have private television stations that are now competing with NTA and FRCN. If government decided to control broadcasting in the country, all of you would have been out of job.
“I know we all feel emotional about subsidy. If you look at the movement of economy all over the world, unless we don’t want to develop this country and move forward, in broadcasting we have seen results. So also is the case in cement production, banking, aviation, and telecommunication,” Maku said.