The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) believes that the trajectory which the present administration had set from the onset to provide all-inclusive governance is worthy of commendation. The national balance seen in the recent appointment of Service Chiefs is heart-warming and re-assuring that every segment of the Nigerian society is critical and important in the Nigerian project. The Christian Association of Nigeria therefore commends the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for showing commitment towards building a united, peaceful and progressive Nigeria.
Given the massive corruption that had characterised the fuel subsidy regime over the years, there was a general consensus that the removal of fuel subsidy had become inevitable if the Nigerian economy is to experience sustainable growth. However, it was also generally agreed that this must be done in such way that Nigerians will not be subjected to untold hardship. In other words, what is idealistic must be balanced with what is realistic.
Against the backdrop of the recent unprecedented hikes in fuel prices and alarming inflation, the national leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria wishes to express its deepest concerns over the prevailing hardships faced by Nigerians, and calls for immediate steps to mitigate the situation. While Nigerians were trying to adjust to the initial increase in the fuel price to N540 and its consequential effect on the cost of transportation, food, goods and services, and the general cost of living, another hike alluded to market forces took the price to N617.
This has placed enormous burden on the already struggling masses, further widening the gap between the rich and the poor and drastically eroding the purchasing power of ordinary citizens, and making it extremely difficult for them to afford the basic necessities of life. The situation is just unbearable for millions of Nigerians who were already suffering poverty.
While CAN acknowledges the complex and difficult decisions that government must take to manage the nation’s economy, there is the urgent need to prioritize measures that will alleviate rather than exacerbate the existing poverty level and hardships of Nigerians. It is therefore imperative that economic policies are formulated and implemented with utmost care and consideration for the prevailing hardships experienced by Nigerians.
We therefore appeal to government as a matter of urgency to consider the following recommendations, among others:
• Government should engage with critical stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue to explore sustainable solutions to the current situation. It is pertinent to develop comprehensive economic policies that promote inclusive growth, job creation, and social well-being.
• Government should focus on diversifying the economy, reducing dependency on volatile commodities, and promoting investments in sectors with the potential to create sustainable employment opportunities. This will not only bolster economic resilience but also contribute to the overall well-being of citizens.
• The fuel subsidy palliatives being considered by government should go beyond cash transfers to consider introducing mass transport across the states to reduce the cost of transportation. The multiplier effect of this will be profound.
• Government should take measures to reduce the price of fuel. Such measures should include removal of unnecessary levies and taxes on imported petroleum products, the stabilization of the foreign exchange market and putting back our local refineries to functional and effective use.
While we agree that there is no gain without pain, the pain must not be unbearable. Consequently, we again urge government to take into account the impact of its policies on the most vulnerable segments of the society, and ensure they are not disproportionately burdened and subjected to unnecessary hardships. Government must listen to the concerns of the Nigerian people and implement sound economic policies that prioritize the well-being of all citizens. By addressing the prevailing hardships caused by the recent fuel price hikes and high inflation, we can pave the way for a brighter future for Nigeria.
We appeal to Nigerians for more patience while urging government to take urgent steps to ameliorate their sufferings. Let us work together to build an economy that is inclusive, resilient, and offers opportunities for every Nigerian to thrive.
May God bless Nigeria and guide our leaders in making decisions that promote the well-being and prosperity of all citizens.
Archbishop Daniel Okoh
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)