The Federal Government on Wednesday summed up the reasons for the all-time increase in the pump price of fuel, saying that it was broke and needed to raise money to keep the system afloat.
The government said that Nigeria’s foreign earnings had drastically waned in the recent times that the only way out of the financial quagmire was to look inwards to generate more money.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammadu made the disclosure while briefing State House Correspondents alongside his colleagues, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Labour Minister, Chris Ngigie at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Council met to review most contemporary national issues which prominently revolved around the fuel hike, its attendant challenges and industrial action by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC.
He said, “The current problem is not really about subsidy removal. It is about that Nigeria is broke. Pure and simple!
“It is like somebody who has been earning N100,000 a month and he is faced with a situation where his employer says henceforth you will be earning N10,000 a month. He would need to make some very painful decisions and some very painful adjustments. That is the situation with Nigeria today.
“A few months ago, we were earning as much as $100 for every barrel of crude. In the months of February and March, we were short of…so, we no longer have the resources, the foreign exchange to bring in refined fuel products. And our economy is shrinking.
“We appreciate the fact that the decision is going to affect everybody. We appreciate what we are going through, but Nigerians should also know that the government has the responsibility at times to take very difficult decisions. So, it is not always about popularity.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Labour, Ngige denied allegations that the government was encouraging labour factionalism by negotiating with both Ayuba Wabba and Joe Ajaero led factions at separate meetings to forestall the planned strike.
Ngige said the door was still open for talks with the federal government.
“We are ready to discuss with anybody even civil society groups. We as government will not encourage factionalism, if for anything we are unifying them by bringing them together to talk about issues that concern their unions and Nigerians. We have a right to talk to whoever we want.
“We will open our doors to them for negotiations when they come back,” Ngige said.
The Minister also revealed that government has agreed to reconstitute the Board of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which was one of the demands of the NLC.
According to Nigige, the reconstitution would be done within a fortnight from now to accommodate input from Labour in the new development.
Similarly, the AGF, Malami discountenanced criticisms arising from the federal government legal approach for injunction against the industrial action, saying it was necessary especially as NLC did not give the government the constitutional 15 days notice.
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