By Babajide Okeowo
The Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Professor Obiora Okonkwo has disclosed that the handout of N8,000 by the Federal Government as palliatives to 12 million poor households in Nigeria as a way of cushioning the effect of the fuel subsidy removal is not the right way to go.
Rather, he called on the government to set aside N250b from the intended N500b to be shared as palliative to be shared as soft loans for serious-minded business owners to grow their businesses which in turn is guaranteed to generate more jobs, create wealth and in the long run stimulate the economy.
Obiora made this suggestion at the 2023 All-Market Conference organized by the Ndigboamaka Progressive Market Association.
“Giving palliative or giving handouts is never a solution. They should look at how they could also use the saving from that fuel subsidy to strengthen business owners, and the private sector to stimulate the economy, to create wealth in a sector like the aviation sector that has been looking for capitalization.
If they put like N250b aside in the form of a soft loan, not a grant, not free money to be available to the aviation sector for those who may be qualified. What it means is that there will be more aircraft, there will be new routes and then it might also energize and capitalize the industry.
The outcome of this is that there will be more people employed, and there will be more revenue generated by the airline. The government would make more money and then flying overseas will bring about foreign exchange earnings and reduce the pressure on foreign exchange.
By and large, it will help people who don’t have jobs, they will increase revenue, will create wealth, and add to our Gross Domestic Product GDP” he said.
He advised that while the government is taking the other side of giving palliative, it is also important that they use the resources to strengthen the economy, and business private owners.
He disclosed that palliatives can come and go, if the government should go with the sharing of palliatives, in no time, N500b will be gone without any tangible meaning to the economy
“Palliatives can come and go; it is just money for chop. It is never enough. N8000 per month, you can only manage it for one or two days. It’s not good for investment. So, N500 billion is gone. So, I have no doubt that the government has thought about that and why they are doing that” he added.