*says 5.5 million Nigerians would benefit from free meal each day
By CHRIS SULEIMAN, Abuja
The removal of petroleum subsidy is already yielding results as 37 companies are jostling to invest in Nigeria’s refineries, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has disclosed.
Mohammed made this known while granting interview to newsmen on Thursday at the All Progressives Congress (APC) national secretariat in Abuja.
According to him, several benefits are to crop up as a result of the subsidy removal, with the common man being the biggest beneficiary in the short and long run.
“This price regime is going to encourage more investment in refineries and in the gas stream sector. You may notice that throughout last week, 37 companies are jostling to come and invest in our refineries just because we have opened up the sector,” he said.
AUTHENTIC News Daily gathered from the briefing that while speaking further on benefits to be expected, he explained that the new price regime will lead to the creation of more jobs because when people invest in the downstream sector, they invest in refineries, there will be more jobs and it will also save the existing jobs.
“We can see a total of 200,000 new jobs being created and saving existing 400,000 jobs.
Let’s look at the benefit for Nigeria and for the common man. The first benefit for Nigeria and for the common man is that it will conveniently eradicate subsidy payment and all corruption associated with subsidy payment. In 2015 alone, over N1tr was spent on subsidy alone. Even our own government, our own administration, we had to go to National Assembly for a supplementary budget, the subsidy component of that budget was N572billion.
“When this new price regime becomes operational, then we are not going to pay anybody any subsidy again. We can now use the money for roads, education and health.
This new price regime will make the product available everywhere in the country at all times. That crude which NNPC has been using to supplement its swap system will cease and then there will then be more money for the three tiers of government to share,” he emphasized.
The minister explained that in the long run, when products are available, people do not have to sleep at the petrol stations, adding that it would soften their pains.
“Like all systems that are first introduced, the prize will go up but it will definitely come down, it is all about market forces,” he argued.
Alhaji Mohammed stressed that the APC-led Federal Government being responsive to the needs of the electorates would be putting smiles on several faces through its social intervention programme, which he assured would have a multiplying effect on the economy.
“This is the social intervention programme that we have. The first is the employment of 500,000 unemployed graduates. The second is the employment of 100,000 non graduates, artisans. The third is the one meal a day programme targeting 5.5 million all over Nigeria. This is the most exciting of all the programmes.
“Because even if you are going to give these children one egg a day, it means you will need 5.5 million eggs, in a calendar year of 200 days, it means over one billion eggs, you can imagine what this can do to agriculture. Fourthly, we have the enterprise scheme, which is a system of revolving loan. We are targeting one million market women and men, 460,000 artisans and technicians and 200,000 non- professional workers.
“They will be given loans through their cooperatives to start their own businesses. Finally we have N5,000 conditional advance fund to one million most vulnerable Nigerians at the first phase. And we have bursaries and scholarships to all students in Nigeria who are studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“This is the only government that out of its own conviction, out of its love for the poor people made available half a trillion naira in the budget without any provocation, without anybody protesting, to take care of the common man,” he submitted.