President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke has cautioned the Nigerian Government against further aggravating the suffering of Nigerians through the proposed fuel subsidy removal.
He said the removal of fuel subsidy will lead to hikes in the prices of petroleum products.
In a release issued on Sunday by his Media Office, Oke warned that the implementation of such a policy could increase the hardship currently being experienced by the people of the country.
He lamented that prices of consumables and other items were increasingly getting out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal is done, it would worsen the hardship of the people of the nation.
"Everybody will feel it, particularly the underprivileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive. The cost of transportation for humans and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected which will have a spiral effect on the general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please, let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful," he said.
Oke said the situation has become worrisome due to the reduction in the purchasing power of Nigerians caused by the continuous fall in the value of the nation's currency at the exchange market.
The PFN president, therefore, admonished the government to do all it could to revive the four ailing refineries in the country, with a view to ensuring they operate at an optimal level for a lasting benefit for the country and its people.
"By whatever means, let the Federal Government put its heart into ensuring that our refineries are back to life. In addition, in order to stem the rising cost of living, farmers and others connected to them should be encouraged. This is what can help our economy," the cleric said.
While maintaining that the Christian body would always support policies that would enhance good governance, he urged the government to put in place tangible palliative measures that could ameliorate the hardship being experienced.
"Without begging the issue, there should be well-defined palliative measures in place that can cushion the effect of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians, especially the commoners. One is not talking about political palliatives that never last. We have seen enough of such," he said.
Continuing, the bishop pointed out that "an increase in the price of petroleum from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care".
On the proposed N5,000 to be paid to about 40 million poor Nigerians by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to ameliorate the effects of the planned fuel subsidy removal, Oke asserted that "Again, the planned introduction of N5,000 for 40 million poor Nigerians is to create a cesspool of corruption. How do you define ‘the poor’? They, mostly, don’t use telephones. They, mostly, don’t have bank accounts. How will the money get to them?"
The renowned cleric advised the government to be wary of policies that could jeopardise the conduct of the 2023 general elections, insisting that all hands must be geared towards steering the wheel of the country to a better place.
As a panacea to the rising cost of food items, the PFN President advised that farmers and relevant stakeholders should be empowered with relevant tools and funds through loans with little interest.
Meanwhile, Oke who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries implored the government not to relent in its efforts at ensuring that security challenges in the country become a thing of the past.