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“Buses run on Diesel, Not Petrol” – Iweala’s Policy Gaffe

By on January 10, 2012

The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, stated on Al-Jazeera on Sunday that the removal of fuel subsidy would not affect transport costs since “buses run on diesel”. This was a policy gaffe of immense proportions by the de-facto prime minister of Nigeria and her economic team, as it is a widely known fact that most commercial buses and motorcycles that transport the majority of Nigerians utilize petrol and not diesel.

The policy gaffe also demonstrates that the Minister did not actually do enough research on the realities on ground in Nigeria, before forging ahead with what many have termed an “insensitive” policy. It augurs that the minister would not have had all the facts down properly as she has not resided in Nigeria for many years, and only comes home on occasion to take up a government role. The gaffe also, according to civil rights activists, helps to highlight the wide gulf between the rich and the poor and in the words of Folarin Adedeji of The Literacy Foundation, a Lagos based NGO, “will be rectified once the executive arm recognizes its flawed theory.”

You can watch the minister’s interview on Aljazeera here.

Petrol Chugging Buses in Lagos, the commercial nerve centre

After the subsidy removal was effected, the Federal Government provided about 1,500 diesel buses as a “palliative” measure to “cushion the effects on Nigerians, however many government critics are callings this effort, too little, too late. Especially since the buses translate to 1.9 per Local Government Authority in a country of 15o million people and 774 Local Government Areas.

Also critics of the policy are quick to highlight the Minister of Finance making similar promises a few years ago when she served under the Obasanjo administration’s economic team. Then the minister had marketed a similar plan to Nigerians, promising that the proceeds of the savings from the debt forgiveness obtained from the Paris Club would be used to execute infrastructure projects. However none of those promises have come to fruition.

  • Chris6777

    Thispolicy will be of benefit to Nigerians in the coming days. Dr. Iweala is passionate about Nigeria.