President Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated 1,100 of 1,600 mass transit buses at the Eagles Square, Abuja, as part of the palliative measures he promised Nigerians to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy. He also said the scheme was not put in place because of the removal of subsidy as “deregulation or no deregulation, we need a mass transit scheme” in order to bring down cost of transportation, pointing out that the increase in the cost of transportation due to the subsidy removal was an over-reaction to the policy and regretted commuters were being made to bear the brunt.
The president noted that wagons and small buses were not suitable for mass transit and therefore makes the cost high, hence the desire to introduce the mass transit buses which he said were not being bought or run by the government. Jonathan, who appealed to Nigerians to be patient as the pains engendered by the deregulation of the downstream sector would be temporary, said that the policy would usher in an enduring gain that would transform the economy.
Meanwhile, members of the civil societies and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) began mass protests against the removal of fuel subsidy. Protests which grounded the whole of Lagos also affected most state capitals throughout the country, including Abuja, where security agencies battled to control the situation. The Police was reported maintaining presence at every major civic centre where protests were targeted by members of Labour and civil societies.
a trendy africa media report