The Governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, in August this year rolled out the state’s interim response to cushion the devastating effects of fuel subsidy removal on the residents of the state.
Governor Soludo, in his message, said his response was in recognition of the fact that the subsidy removal affected all citizens, especially the army of the unemployed and underemployed youths, as well as the vulnerable segment of the population.
He pledged among others, a N12, 000 monthly cash award to all civil servants and pensioners in the state’s employ and those of the local governments of the state (comprising approximately 59, 000 persons) flat, to augment their monthly take-home from September to December this year.
Prof Soludo noted that the state would be distributing rice to 300, 000 households in the 326 political wards across the state. He went further to state many other commendable packages for the people, both in short- and long-term ranges.
However, the question that begs for an answer from every right thinking Anambra resident is: where is the place of the millions of unemployed and underemployed youths, including the vulnerable, in the Governor’s package?
For instance, a good number of the unemployed and underemployed youths in the country, and the state in particular, are in their parents’ homes or under the employ of private business operators, respectively.
What of some others in the artisan business category? Uncontrovertibly, these segments of people go to the same markets with the civil servants. They board the same buses with the civil servants and other well to do Nigerians and pay the same fare.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government’s initial plan and method to distribute the subsidy palliative met very heavy criticisms from Nigerians. Many of the critics suggested better ways to deploy the N5 billion palliative for the poor and the rich in the country to benefit from it.
Against this background, we pray the Soludo-led Administration to use the same state’s N5 billion to revamp and return the coaster buses under the Transport Company of Anambra State, TRACAS, as obtained during the Willie Obiano Administration, to ease transportation difficulties occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal. By extension, Governor Soludo can procure minibuses and deploy the same across Anambra Communities and cities now, while planning to apply for the purchase of CNG-fueled buses to be provided by the Federal Government for intra-state transportation.
Inasmuch as the effects of the fuel subsidy removal cannot be tackled completely at a go, we believe that honest deployment of the state’s N5 billion palliative in procuring and introducing mass transit buses across the Communities and Cities of the state with subsidized fares, will go a long way in bringing down, not only the present skyrocketed fares, but also the prices of essential commodities in the markets.
It is only when this is done, that the vulnerable segment of society can have a chance to benefit, both directly and indirectly, from the Federal Government’s N5 billion palliative to cushion the devastating effects of fuel subsidy removal.