The real reason for the hike in the price of petrol in Nigeria has been given: Nigeria is broke and needed to make money off its citizens.

The confession came after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr Lai Mohammed, information minister, made the revelation during a briefing at the end of the meeting. The ministers of power, labour and justice were present at the briefing.

“The curent problem is not really about subsidy. It is about [the fact] that Nigeria is broke. Pure and simple,” said Mohammed.

Nigeria has been tottering on the brink of disaster since the price of crude oil, its main foreign exchange earner, fell in July 2014. Now, there is a resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta: the “Niger Delta Avengers” and other shadowy groups in the area have cut down Nigeria’s oil output by 800, 000 barrels per day by blowing up pipelines. The 2016 budget is based on 2.2million barrels per day.

Minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachikwu announced the new pump price for petrol on May 11. A litre has risen from N86 to N145 in cities like Abuja and Lagos. Its price ranges from N150 to N190 in most other Nigerian towns and cities.

Besides, power output has gone lower: only 1, 400MW of electricity is available to a nation of 180million people. The lack of power supply has not affected the tariff paid by consumers, which was jacked up by 45 per cent in March this year. As aresult an average family now gets about N15, 000 electricity bill per month.

The information given by Mohammed  signals a disaster: Nigeria’s economic collapse. Likely, the new government won’t fulfil its promise of paying N500billion in social benefits or increasing workers’ pay. No fewer than 27 out of 36 states are already defaulting in payment of their workers. The rate of unemployment in the country is in the region of 50 to 60 per cent, while inflation is galloping. Nigeria’s poverty rate is at an all-time high: well over 90 per cent.

Labour unrest has started (over fuel price hike), but mass poverty, retrenchment, delay in payment of salaries, mass hopelessness and misery are likely to worsen soon.



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