Former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) yesterday called for the repair of the refineries before the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said fuel subsidy should be withdrawn with minimal pain to the people as he called for an end to importation of petroleum products.
Gen. Gowon spoke in Umuahia where, on behalf of the Carter Fundation Centre, distributed mosquito treated nets and initiated collaboration with the Abia State government on prevention of malaria.
He also visited the Government House where he was received by Deputy Governor Emeka Ananaba.
The former Head of State said:
â€œIf all the refineries in the country are working at normal capacity and importation of petroleum products is stopped, the price of fuel will stabilise and the suffering of the people will be reduced.â€
Gen. Gowon said if the contrary is done, the prices of goods and services will be too high for the common man, adding that the problem that will come after it might be too much for those in authority to handle.
He advised that the funds that will be saved from the removal of fuel subsidy should be channelled into infrastructure and other amenities.
On the late Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the former Biafran leader, Gen. Gowon said: â€œHe was a man who fought and defended the right of Ndigbo for them to stand on their own. His death is a great loss not only to the Igbo race but to the entire country.â€
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also warned President Jonathan against withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
The Labour organisation urged the President not to listen to the dictate of the international monetary organisations but re-direct his energy towards fulfilling his campaign promoters.
NLC Vice President Issa Aremu stated Labourâ€™s position in Lokoja at the weekend during the 10th year memorial colloquium in honour of the late Prof. Bade Onimode.
He said fuel subsidy is a â€œdog action sold to Jonathan by agents of the World Bankâ€.
Describing the planned removal of fuel subsidy as an abuse of the Presidentâ€™s mandate, Aremu said: â€œThe President should follow his transformation agenda by first putting a stop to oil theft, rehabilitation and construction of new refineries as well as ensuring accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the National Assembly.
â€œSubsidy removal is the same old song which Nigerians have been serially subjected to since the late 1980s. Therefore, it must be rejected. The struggle to halt this anti- masses policy is not that of NLC alone, but the entire people of Nigeria.â€
Aremu said labour does â€œnot know the existence of any subsidy. We challenge the government to prove their point,â€ eh said.
According to him, the government is only trying to hang the burden of the failure of governance and the NNPC as an institution on the already over stressed Nigerians. There is no alternative to good governance, Aremu said.