The planned industrial action by labour unions is a step in the right direction, some clerics have said.
The pastors, in separate interviews with our correspondent, said the strike being called by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress was in good faith, asking the Federal Government to listen to the voice of the people and reverse its decision.
The clerics condemned the haste with which the removal was introduced, describing it as suicidal.
While they said nothing was wrong with the idea of removing subsidy on fuel, they frowned at the fact that no provision had been made to cushion its harsh effect on the people.
The President, Eclectic Network, Rev. Moses Iloh, said he believed that President Goodluck Jonathan was being misled by some people around him, who wanted to move him against the interest of the people that voted him into power.
He urged labour to proceed with the planned strike to convey the aches and pains suffered by the masses to the government.
He, however, called for caution, saying no one needed to lose his life to the struggle.
He said, “I believe the leadership of his (Jonathan) economic team is out on a revenge mission to bring the President down. What they are trying to do is completely inhuman and illogical. This could have been done in the future.
“Labour is in the right direction. I only ask them not to be violent. Only a sycophant will support what the government has done. Everyone is affected.”
A former General Overseer, Foursquare Gospel Church, Nigeria, Rev. Wilson Badejo, said the government should have applied restraint in the removal of subsidy and apply it after fixing the power problem.
He said the haste in the government’s step suggested that it was under pressure from an external force to act in spite of the feelings of the people.
Badejo said while the President had his facts for removing fuel subsidy, he could have done it gradually to avoid the suffering it had brought to the people.
He said labour was on point as it owed it as a duty to the masses to do what it is doing. He said, “If it is in the interest of the people, then Mr. President was a bit hasty in his step. I pray that God, whom I believe he also serves, will touch his heart to take responsibility for his errors and reverse this move.
“The hike in prices of products and services as a result of this action is astronomical and suicidal. Government cannot tie the need to fix electricity and bad roads strictly to the money to be saved from subsidy; those should have been resolved before subsidy was removed.”
The President, Global Harvest Church, Pastor Victor Adeyemi, said the spontaneous rate of inflation already caused by subsidy removal had eroded the value of government’s plan to make the economy better through it.
Adeyemi called for improved capacity in local refineries as an alternative to subsidy removal, saying the cost would not be as high as that of importation.
On the proposed strike by labour, he said Nigerians had the right to protest when aggrieved, calling on the government to listen.
“The ripple effect of this action has reduced the value of money to be saved from subsidy removal. If they planned to build 1,000km road from the money, it may not build more than 500km now going by the current inflation level,” he said.
The Presiding Bishop, Rhema Christian Church, Bishop Taiwo Akinola, agreed that the government’s step was hasty. He, however, called on labour to further embrace dialogue before going on strike.
He said labour should give the government a chance as they appeared to be sincere with the plan to reinvest the money saved from the subsidy.
Akinola said labour and the government should consider the negative implications of a strike and resolve the issue.
He said, “In Africa, it is difficult to believe governments because at times, they say one thing and do the order, but I want us to give them the benefit of the doubt and choose the path of peace. People have been suffering and except this issue is resolved, people will suffer more.”