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Sagay criticizes timing of petrol subsidy removal, urges patience

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Renowned lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Professor Itse Sagay, on Friday, weighed in on the controversial petrol subsidy removal.

He spoke in an interview on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande on Channels Television.

While acknowledging the necessity of ending the subsidy, Sagay expressed reservations about the timing and its immediate impact on Nigerians.

He said, “Petrol is critical to our lives. The cost of living is going up, and basic living is now expensive. I think we might have gone on for another six months and as internal production was coming up, then the subsidy can be removed.

“The immediacy and the sudden manner of the decision to remove petrol subsidy has created an immediate level of hardship which is almost becoming unbearable.”

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“I am not in full agreement with the way and order some of the things are being done now. On the issue of petrol, I would have been happier if the government had been patient to allow internal production to commence before removing the subsidy.

“Now, Dangote is now producing. And of course, the refinery in Port Harcourt is almost ready. Perhaps, if we had waited a little longer, the transition will not have been harsh. We are in it already but I think we are in competent hands and we will get out of it.

“We’ve been on this subsidy for decades and a few more months would not have killed us. You can see the difference in lifestyle now.”

Key Points from Sagay’s Statement:

Subsidy Removal Justified, but Timing Questioned: Sagay agreed with the long-term goal of removing the subsidy but argued that the immediate implementation caused unnecessary hardship. He suggested waiting for increased domestic production from the Dangote refinery and the Port Harcourt refinery to ease the transition.

Current Hardship Unnecessary: Sagay stressed the significant increase in the cost of living due to the fuel price hike, highlighting the burden it places on ordinary Nigerians. He believes an additional few months with subsidies could have lessened the immediate impact.

Confidence in Government’s Competence: Despite his criticism of the timing, Sagay expressed confidence in the government’s ability to navigate the current challenges. He emphasized the need for patience and collaboration to overcome the economic hardship.

Professor Sagay’s comments add to the public discourse surrounding the petrol subsidy removal and its economic ramifications.

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