By Ene Asuquo
The General overseer of Christian Central Chapel International, Bishop Gospel Emmah Isong has faulted the Federal Government’s intention to give poor Nigerians the sum of Eight thousand naira (#8,000) only, as palliatives to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.
Isong, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), spoke at the thanksgiving service to mark the first (1st) year anniversary of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ), Cross River State Council, yesterday in Calabar.
The Federal Government last week announced that she had transmitted an appropriation bill to the House of Representatives to raise some amount of money for palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.
But, during his sermon, Isong, decried the proposed stipend to vulnerable Nigerians, saying he had expected the Government to rather buy enough vehicles and put on the roads to alleviate the suffering of the masses rather than disburse such a paltry amount of money to Nigerians.
He noted that the Federal Government’s proposal was indicative of her level of unpreparedness before embarking on the subsidy removal policy, expressing doubt if the potential beneficiaries will even use the money for its intended purpose.
“The removal of subsidy, it never had a problem. I’m an Economics, every subsequent government had promised to remove subsidy. If you know the politics of removing subsidy, you will remove subsidy if you were into power. Maybe the way it was removed and the lack of strategic plans on ground and maybe what we call palliatives were not rightfully administered”.
He noted that, “the problem of the subsidy is not the subsidy itself but the lack of preparation of sectors of economic transportation, market and so on to be able to proffer the effect of the so call removal”
“In my own opinion, I never believed in the palliative of N8,000. Even five hundred billion, give it to me, in my own way, I know what to do and ever intelligent Nigerian knows what to do in seven sectors and Nigeria will turn around and not feel the impact of the removal of subsidy. Five hundred billion naira can break the yoke of poverty, one week is enough. Buy enough vehicles, so people don’t have to pay much for transportation”, he lamented.
While pondering on the selection criteria for the potential beneficiaries, Isong, who is also the Patron of the State’s Council of the NUJ, called on media practitioners to also protect the interest of the masses in their reportage.
“If you give palliatives to the education and health sectors including the rural areas, the effect will collapse. So, to me, N8,000, we don’t even know who will receive the money and even when people receive the money, who determines who receive the money. As an Economics, I feel wrong medicine to the right patient is sharing money to Nigerians. N8,000 will finish in some people’s hand within one week. They may even use it on their bad habits and it will never proffer the effect of the hash economy.
“NUJ as a union, you are the defender of the weak, the last hope of the common man. They will not be able to have any say in this world if you compromise. If you keep quiet, we are finish because you are the fourth estate of the realm. You are the ones the downtrodden Nigerians are looking up to when people they have voted into power massively disappoint them,” he added.
In his remarks at the at the occasion, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Cross River State Council, Comrade Nsa Gill, thanked God for His grace and the enablement given to the Council to positively affect the lives of her members.
He noted that in spite of the economic downturn, by the grace of God, the last one year had been quite a rewarding one for the Council.