By Ìwàpẹlẹ Ọmọ Giwa
On may 29th, 2023, the just sworn in president Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his inaugural speech announce the complete removal of fuel subsidy, a decision which seems right but tough on the people due to its multiplicity effect on lives of every Nigerians, both rich and poor alike, everyone feels the effect of this decision.
However, immediately the pronouncement were made, some state government announced several intervention packages, some increased minimum wage, some reduced working days but the governor of Oyo state, Engr. Sẹyì Makinde has always displayed rarity in handling fragile issues as this.
In order not to make hasty decisions, the governor of Oyo state set up a Committee to look into how the government could provide relief for the people as a result of the subsidy removal within six weeks, he equally announced that the state owned transport service “Omituntun Bus” should reduce it’s fares by half, while other palliative erasures are being reviewed.
At first, the point of effect of subsidy removal was a geometric increase in cost of transportation, many business owners couldn’t afford to bear the cost, students can’t pay exorbitant prices to go to school, civil servants and private workers too can’t afford such geometric rise in their cost of transport, hence the reduction of Omituntun Bus prices was a right decision in right direction, many applauded it.
In between the waiting period, the Governor has issued promotions letters to over 2000 civil servants under the state civil service commission and another over 2000 promotion under the local government service commission, this is a booster for civil servants as it means increased income for them.
Finally, the wait was over on 5th of August, when the governor made a live broadcast and reeled out what he called “Sustainable Action for Economic Recover” (SAfER) the plan was indeed all encompassing as it addresses major issues that came with the fuel subsidy removal, some of the relief packages rolled out under the SAfER plan includes:
1. Registration of 200,000 poorest of the poor who’ll receive immediate food items.
2. Provision of health insurance under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) to 100,000 vulnerable people.
3. Extension of Omituntun Bus service to other zones of the state which includes Oyo, Ogbomosho, Ìbàràpá and Okeogun, as well as keeping reducing fares by 50% for aged and school students.
4. Distribution of farm input materia to 10,000 farmers across the state.
5. Provision of enterprise support fund of 500 million for youths in agribusiness ( YEAP)
6. Provision of a 500 million naira low interest loan facility for small business owners to help businesses stay afloat
7. Tertiary Institution students will also board Omituntun buses at half price
However, during the waiting period, the workers of the state grew inpatient thereby resorting to a protest on Monday, 31st of July, 2023, demanding better working conditions and renumeration to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy, the protest which had begun on Monday run through the week till Friday and could resume again on Monday as the labor union refuse calls for dialogue from the government, they’vee since then deny all workers access into the Secretariat complex, grounding all state activities for the whole week, however, the governor had appeal to them to sheath their sword and give way for peaceful dialogue and he as well rolled out series of palliative measures to help cushion the effect of the the hard time, some of these measures includes:
1. increasing number of busses that conveys civil servants from 9 to 12 so as to cover more routes and ensure civil servants enjoy free transport service during this period.
2. payment of 2 months owed Cooperative deduction alongside august salary at the well known GSM date of every month as well as removing the government as intermediary between civil servants and Cooperative societies, therefore, civil servant would make their remittance to their respective cooperative society as they so wish.
3. Resumption of monthly payment of gratuity to pensioners to continue clearing the existing backlog by previous administrations as well as payment of one year health insurance for all pensioners under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA)
These programs as outlined above would commence implementation in matter of weeks and the good people of Oyo state would indeed feel relief.
Governor Sẹyì Makinde once is setting the pace for other States to follow and it remains our responsibility as patriotic citizens to cooperate with government to deliver the good governance we all crave for.
God Bless Oyo state.