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Thursday, May 12

Fuel subsidy removal: FG should review minimum wage – Gbajabiamila

Fuel subsidy removal: FG should review minimum wage – Gbajabiamila

Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila

Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has called for a review of the minimum wage.

He made the call following the deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector, which skyrocketed the pump price of fuel to N145 per litre.

Gbajabiamila, who had fought relentlessly against efforts by past governments to remove petroleum subsidy, said though it was necessary to deregulate the petroleum sector to shield the country from economic problems, it was also necessary to raise the minimum wage in order to meet the rising cost of living in the country.

He said, “There has to be a serious review of the minimum wage if you are going to increase the pump price of petrol because we all know everything rests on that.

“Prices are going to skyrocket, from school fees to food, to transportation, to school uniforms and to books. Everything is going to go up because of mono economy. If we are going to do that, it is incumbent upon the government to take seriously the demands of labour.

“Minimum wage needs to be reviewed; we cannot increase the cost of living and keep salaries where it is, they go hand in hand.”

Gbajabiamila gave a vivid account of what transpired at the stakeholders’ meeting at the Villa on Wednesday.

He said: “I was at the stakeholders; meeting with the Vice President Wednesday and other stakeholders before the decision was made.

“The story that was painted, the details, the breakdown and the facts were scary. From what I read and what I saw, if we had continued that way we may not even have a country in two months time.

“Salaries would not have been paid by any state. Faced with that, it puts me in a very difficult situation and serious dilemma as to which way to go. I have always on one hand fought against the removal of fuel subsidy but now, I am confronted with very scary details as to what will happen if they don’t deregulate.

“The consequences will be very bad for me and you, so it is like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Gbajabiamila, however, said the Federal Government ought to have established refineries before removing the subsidy.

“I believe that if God has given you natural product, the least we should do is to allow the people to benefit from that kind of product,” he said, adding that subsidy had dented the image of the country.

“If subsidy is being abused, all we need to do is to block the holes of abuse and not to punish the whole of Nigerians for the abuse of a few people.

“But having said that, I have always argued, why don’t you build a refinery first if at all you have to remove the subsidy. It is only in Nigeria that subsidy is given a bad name.

“There is subsidy all over the world, in America agriculture is subsidized and in UK transportation is subsidized. It is only in Nigeria that they say subsidy is bad. So, why is it not bad in other countries? That’s what we need to look at.”

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