A Muslim cleric, Alhaji Lukman Abdulraheem, on Saturday urged the Federal Government to delay the removal of fuel subsidy until adequate social safety nets were put in place for the citizens.
Abdulraheem told our correspondent in Lagos that he was making the call because of the grave effects which the subsidy’s removal would have on the people’s living standards.
He stressed the need for the introduction of social safety safeguards before removing the subsidy, saying that almost 64 per cent of the country’s population lived below the international poverty line of about one dollar (about N150) per day.
“Removing subsidy on fuel now will cause untold hardships for Nigerians; it will affect the living standards of the people, particularly the poor,” he said.
Abdulraheem, who is the Deputy Chief Imam of Akoka mosque, said that issues relating to poverty, inflation and unemployment should be promptly addressed by the government at all levels.
“The poverty level in Nigeria will worsen if the subsidy is removed. It may lead to loss of jobs as many industries may not be able to afford the high cost of fuel when petroleum products’ pricing in fully deregulated.
“The high cost of governance, the fat salaries and allowances being paid to public officials should be reduced drastically.
“A greater percentage of the country’s budget is spent on the salaries of public servants; the trend should be reversed,” he said.
On corruption, the cleric urged the government and its anti-graft agencies to prosecute all those who looted public funds in the country.
“The monies recovered from the corrupt persons should be used for the development of the country’s infrastructure and the rehabilitation of its oil refineries,” Abdulraheem said.