The Coalition of Oodua Self-Determination Groups has called on Nigerians to back President Bola Tinubu’s decision to remove fuel subsidy, stating that it is the right step forward. Speaking at a joint press conference held in Lagos State, Mr. Razak Olokoba, the leader of the Yoruba groups, emphasized that Nigeria cannot continue budgeting trillions of naira for fuel subsidy alone.
Olokoba highlighted that for the year 2023, Nigeria allocated N11 trillion of its oil revenue solely for subsidizing petrol. He argued that this expenditure is wasteful and does not yield significant results. He proposed that the funds could be better utilized to address various deficits in infrastructure, housing, education, healthcare, and overall improvement in the quality of life for Nigerians. Additionally, he believed it would contribute to strengthening the Nigerian currency.
Stressing the heavy reliance of Nigeria’s economy on petroleum exports, Olokoba pointed out that one-third of the Gross Domestic Product has yielded zero revenue from the sector. He acknowledged President Tinubu’s statement regarding inheriting the assets and liabilities of the previous regime, highlighting the significant local and foreign debts amounting to N71 trillion.
Olokoba maintained that if fuel subsidy is not eliminated, it will eventually harm Nigerians. He highlighted the lack of progress in building refineries since the government granted 20 refinery licenses to private companies in 2000, with only Dangote’s refinery recently being inaugurated.
The leader of the Yoruba groups also advocated for deregulation in the oil sector to encourage competition and lower prices. He drew parallels with the telecommunications industry, where such deregulation has shaped the behavior of investors and consumers.
Olokoba justified President Tinubu’s plan to increase the minimum wage from the current N30,000, emphasizing the need for economic reforms and better living standards.
Addressing the intended strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, Olokoba urged the organized unions to prioritize peace and engage in dialogue with the government. He criticized the strike as politically motivated and anti-people, expressing that no part of Yorubaland is ready for unnecessary unrest over fuel subsidy.
The coalition reiterated its commitment to the clamor for restructuring and deemed the 1999 Constitution unsustainable. Olokoba emphasized that President Tinubu and the APC must prioritize the restructuring of Nigeria into a true federal system.
Leaders present at the conference included Comrade Wale Adeoye, Chief Kunle Oshodi of Agbekoya, Wasiu Alabi of Oodua Peoples Congress, Jubril Ogundinmu of Odua Reform Movement, Afolabi Omotoso of Oodua Peoples Congress (Reformed), Sadam Arogundade of Oodua Peoples Congress (New Era), Sunday Akinmoye, Taiwo Adeyeri, and others.