By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan will, today, meet with the 36 state governors to brief them on the deregulation of the downstream sector of the economy.
The meeting is coming a day after the President had summoned an emergency Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting to deliberate on the same issue.
Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, said President Jonathan will meet the governors in Abuja to review the situation ahead of the planned strike declared by labour on Monday.
He said: “The President will be meeting with us tomorrow (today) for us to further look at how states can also key into some of the palliative measures which the president has put forward.”
He noted that under the present dispensation “a lot of states will be getting subsidy for the first time. Benue will be getting, at least, N7.6 billion. It is a drop in the ocean, but it will make a difference. If I decided that N7.6 billion is going to build classrooms, I can achieve that. Subsidy now goes to the common man who ordinarily have never benefited from subsidy.”
Suswam added: “The President has promised, genuinely and sincerely, that whatever money that will be realised from saving, will be ploughed back towards improving the living standards of Nigerians and I think the man deserves to be given a chance.”
He said adding the meeting with the President will offer them the opportunity to discussed the palliatives for the Nigerians.
The governor disclosed that so far about N7.6 billion has accrued from the subsidy money which will be used to provide short term relief for the citizenry, and therefore urged organised labour to show understanding with government on the subsidy removal.
The governor, who said they all supported the decision of the president to remove the subsidy, noted that the time has come for Nigerians to move ahead.
He said: “If we take it that over the years promises have been made and that promises have been broken, therefore no chance should be given to any leader, then we are heading for a doom.”
He lamented that the undue delay in the removal of the fuel subsidy had over the years retarded the infrastructural development in the country.
On the issue of timing, he said: “Government wants to put down something that will improve the well being of the people.”
On cost-cutting measures been adopted by the governors, he said: “I have not been sleeping because I am looking for money to pay minimum wage. The money is simply not there. We need money to provide some of the basic infrastructure.
”Under the present circumstance, if we don’t have money to pay the minimum wage, where we will get more to run some of the paraphernalia you people are complaining about? But it is beyond the issue of cutting expenses,” he emphasised.