By Ivharue Ofe

The news hit us with an astonishing blow on the eleventh day of the month of May 2016. After several weeks of battling with fuel scarcity, long tiring queues at filling stations, obnoxious prices by black-market sellers and the knock-on-effect of road congestion- ‘The Subsidy was removed; Fuel Price was hiked to N145/Litre’.

For some, the news was a blessing, an eye-opener to the bigger picture that would delineate the change we zealously voted for in the first place. For others the news was a nightmare, the kind that jolts you out of sleep in the middle of the night. Some even wanted to believe it was a joke or another example of a sombre ‘April fools’.

It is not hard to see how this fuel hike has affected every sector of the country’s economy and inadvertently the citizens. In the words of ten Nigerian youths selected randomly from different corners of Lagos, we get to know their experiences with the ‘change’ and how they feel about the idea.

Sefua Ikekhide, Surulere – “I can’t study because I can’t afford fuel for my Generator”

The news came as a shock to me. The increase in fuel price has affected me in a lot of terrible ways. I now spend more money on transportation whenever I step out of my house. With the epileptic power supply in our country, I rely solely on generator, and now, I can’t even afford the normal litres I used to buy. And as a student I need light to study, but I can’t because there is no power and I can’t afford fuel for my generator. The new Fuel price has affected every which way in Nigeria even to the least basic amenities of life, I mean it has even affected the price of gas. I remember during Jonathan’s regime Nigerians fought endlessly against the hike and it was reduced, so I don’t understand why the present government will just come out of nowhere and increase the price as if our lives aren’t already hard.

Enu Obodo, Ajah- “it is obvious the government has no feasible reason for the removal of the fuel subsidy”

The increase in fuel price affects me negatively every day. I work with a pharmaceutical company and we end up spending lots of money on fuel for business errands to satisfy our customers, which is not cost effective for the business at all. At the end of the month we notice that the costs of running the business actually supersedes the profits made in the first place. It is really frustrating. Even as a bachelor, I am very negatively affected by this subsidy removal, the price of food stuff has shot up and the food sellers blame it on higher costs of transportation. I used to support the removal of fuel subsidy and the palliative measures the government claimed to put in place. But now, it is obvious the government had no feasible reason for the removal, nor had they put any palliative measures in place. What they did was to create artificial scarcity so that they can be justified for removing the subsidy. That is wickedness not wisdom. They caused pain and then pretended to alleviate it thinking we will not notice.

Aminu Kwasu, Egbeda – “the suffering now is unbearable”

The fuel price hike has injured me. The increase in cost of transportation, the increase in cost of food stuff, all this are just hard to cope with. And to make things worse, salaries did not follow suit in the increment. The suffering now is unbearable. If salaries cannot be increased, then let them put back the subsidy so that the cost of goods and services can revert.

Chioma Cynthia, VGC – “subsidy removal is not a good thing if people have to pay through their noses to get fuel”

This fuel thing has affected my life so much. Now, I have to spend a greater deal of my salary to fuel my car. Sometimes in a week, to conserve fuel, I trek to work. I don’t support the subsidy idea at all. The subsidy removal is not a good thing if people have to pay through their noses to get fuel. All it is doing is crippling the market system.

Lucy Patrick, Onipanu – “the removal of the fuel subsidy has its advantage”

Although, because of the fuel price hike I spend more on fuel now, like the amount used to fill a keg then is now spent on just half the keg. Be that as it may, the removal of fuel subsidy has its advantage. It has made the fuel available. So I support the idea. Now, marketers source for fuel themselves which creates competition between them thus ensuring that the fuel is always available. I am still hopeful though that there will be a reduction in fuel price soon, but for now, we have to live with it no matter how uncomfortable it is.

CEO Teekay farms, Lagos –“prices of things are outrageous”

Well before now, the fuel price hike was affecting me and my fish farming business negatively. Mostly because of the disparity in pump prices at different filling stations. Although I don’t support the subsidy, I’m just glad that now the fuel pump price is fixed and things are slowly normalizing, especially the traffic. However, prices of things in the country now are outrageous. The prices of fish feed has increased drastically which has prompted me to also increase the prices of my fish and that is really slowing down sales.

Raji Olanrewaju, Maryland – “We empower the government but then they turn around to ridicule us”

The fuel subsidy removal is a really unhappy development. When the price of fuel was N86.50 per litre, I used to fill up my fuel tank with about N7,000. Now that it is being sold for N145 per litre, I spend almost N12,000, meanwhile, my salary has not increased. Now, I have abandoned my car. I have to face reality. I now go to work by public transportation. The convenience is no longer available, I have a car but I can’t drive it, what can one do? Although fuel scarcity, coupled with the high cost of fuel, had persisted in the country since last year, it was last months’ development that woke me up to the new reality. We empower the government but then they turn around to ridicule us and leave us in a state of dilemma. I guess we just have to get used to it. We need not depend on oil that is what got us into this mess in the first place. As for the removal of fuel subsidy the only reason I would support the idea is if the money meant for the subsidy is used in creating jobs for the people and empowering our economy. If not they should just reduce the fuel price and let us all go on with our lives.

Mohammed, Onikan –“Tomatoes is now N100 per one, yet salary is stagnant”

I do not support the removal of the fuel subsidy and I never will. The subsidy used to be the only benefit average Nigerians get from their government, now that it is gone, what are we benefitting from the government we voted in, if not hardship. Before last month, I used to enter ‘Keke na pepe’ N50, now I have to pay N100, that’s extra N50 I have to pay, yet my salary is not increasing. How will I cope?
A bowl of Garri that used to be N300 is now N1,700. Tomatoes is now N100 per one, yet salary is stagnant. Nigerians are suffering right now because of this fuel hike issue.

Tolulope Sadiq, Palmgrove – “everything has suddenly become difficult”

The way this fuel price hike is affecting me badly, makes me unsure if to support the removal of subsidy or not. Because of the whole subsidy thing I had to make the discomfiting decision to stop driving my car. The fuel price is just too high, I spend nothing less than 40k on fuel monthly, yet my Income is not increasing like the prices of every other thing across the country. I can’t use my money for other fun activities. Fuelling my generator is another big issue for me because of the perpetual blackout in the country. Before the subsidy N 1,000 fuel was okay for 2days, but now I have to spend N 3,000. The country is tiring, everything has suddenly become difficult.

Anita Attah, Lekki – “I trust president Buhari’s decision”

I cannot deny that life has not been difficult since the announcement last month. Prices immediately increased and things started becoming scarce. The issue of tomatoes is just the scariest, I mean now when I go to buy jollof rice, it is almost always yellow in colour not red again, because of the outrageous price of tomatoes. Still, I believe in president Buhari’s decision. He is helping us gather our stolen funds now so our great-grand-children won’t suffer, but what I don’t know is when he will finish gathering the money so that he can face the real problems in the country. Things have been going wrong since his inauguration, I just still want to believe every decision he makes is for a good cause

Conclusively, my only response to all of these are in the words of the musician Veno Marioghae, “Nigeria go survive! My people go survive o! Nigeria go survive!”

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