Remove fuel subsidy, subsidise education, health, Ibru tells FG

Former President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Goodie Ibru, has thrown his weight behind calls for the removal of subsidy on fuel by the government, saying whatever fund is gained from the process could be used to subsidise education and health.

According to him, subsidising education and health on a larger scale would make every Nigerian to be adequately equipped to compete better in the global market place of opportunities.

Ibru, who is also a former President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, stated this on Thursday while delivering the 2022 Distinguished Personality Lecture Series of the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, Lagos.

The lecture was titled, “Imperatives of a 21st Century Nigerian Economy: An Entrepreneur’s Perspective.”

He also suggested that the Federal Government should make it mandatory for International Oil Comoanies, IOCs, to set up refineries in the country before granting them operation licences, adding that it would help the country conserve scare foreign exchange being spent on importing refined products.

“The cost of petrol subsidy is enormous and incalculable. The Federal Government in November last year estimated that it will cost N1.8 trillion in 2021 (about $4.32 billion). At an average of N150 billion, that roughly approximates the annual budget of 12 state governments combined.

“To buttress this point, the total sum of the 2022 budgets of the six North Central states of Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, and Nasarawa is N908.7 billion, while the average for the six states is N151.45 billion. The total FG budget for the health sector in 2019 was N1.191 trillion and the total budget proposed for road and housing in the 2022 Appropriation Bill was N481.96 billion.

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“In 2022, the FG plans to spend about N3,000 ($7) per person for health, while the cost of petrol subsidy for next year could reach N13,000 ($32) per person. Not only is the petrol subsidy costly, but it mainly benefit richer households,” he said.

Quoting a report by globalpetrolprice.com, Ibru said Nigeria had the seventh lowest price of petrol in the world.

“As at January 3, 2022 in Nigeria, the price of Octane-95 gasoline is N167.6 per litre. For comparison, the average price of gasoline in the world for this period is N503.05, Nigeria has the seventh lowest pump price of petrol in the world. The prices range from N10.319 in Venezuela to N1,079.273 in Hong Kong,” he said.

Ibru, who highlighted the major problems facing the Nigerian economy to include too much dependence on crude oil, foreign exchange scarcity among others, called on youths to embrace entrepreneurship and technology that could help them be self-employed.

He charged tertiary institutions in the country to focus on producing graduates that would be self-reliant, saying the time had changed from chasing white collar jobs to being an employer of labour.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, described entrepreneurs as the engine room of a nation’s economy.

“Entrepreneurs add to national income. Entrepreneurial ventures help generate new wealth. Existing businesses may remain confined to existing markets and may hit a limit in terms of income. New and improved products, services or technology from entrepreneurs enable new markets to be developed and new wealth created. It is a crucial developmental cycle,” she said.

The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Gbolahan Elias, SAN, said the choice of Ibru as the lecturer was apt given his immense contributions and knowledge about industry, law and commerce.
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