“The govt understands the feelings of many Nigerians because transport costs have gone up and the govt is trying to make sure the benefits that come out of the removal of this subsidy are put into programmes that directly benefit the people and bring down costs.
“For instance, this afternoon president Goodluck Jonathan launched a programme of mass transit to improve bus and road transportation for the people so that the cost of transport can come down. About 1100 buses were put on the road and the road transport workers association has agreed to bring the costs down because the buses use diesel which has been deregulated for quite some time so there was really no need for costs to go up.
“What we’re doing is trying to bring the benefits of the subsidy phase-out to bear, so that prices can come down. For instance, the price of transport is set to come down because the transport worker’s association has accepted that there was no need to increase the price of bus transport because buses use diesel, not petrol. And so they are going to bring that down. In addition, we are working with other transporters to try and bring prices of transport down.
“We are also working to improve other services which affect the population. For instance, part of this money is going g to be put into services for maternal health and child mortality. We have one of the very bad indicators for maternal mortality in the world and it is unconscionable that our women should be dying in childbirth whilst we’re using money to subsidize [petrol] which the poor people in the population do not get. so we need to improve these services to the people.
“We are going to be improving roads. Of the $8 that goes into the subsidy, $4 billion will go into improving road transport and rail transport, and the rest will go into supporting the creation of employment for youth, improving maternal mortality, and into mass transit programs. These are all programs in which the poor in the population will benefit much more than they do from the issue of subsidy.”