The Federal Government has said it increased the price of petrol to raise money to run the system, since the country was broke. Government said Nigeria’s foreign earnings had drastically reduced in recent times and that the only way out of its present financial quagmire was to look inwards to generate more money. Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed, stated these while briefing newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday.
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Also at the briefing were Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige. Mr. Lai Mohammed said: “The current problem is not really about subsidy removal. It is about the fact that Nigeria is broke. Pure and simple. “It is like when somebody who has been earning N100,000 a month is faced with a situation where his employer says, henceforth you will be earning N10,000 a month. He would need to make some very painful decisions and some very painful adjustments. That is the situation with Nigeria today.” Also speaking, Dr. Ngige denied allegations that government was encouraging labour factionalisation by negotiating with both Ayuba Wabba and Joe Ajaero factions at separate meetings to forestall the strike. Ngige said the door is still open for talks with the Federal Government, noting that “we are ready to discuss with anybody, even civil society groups. As a government, we will not encourage factionalisation.” Similarly, Malami faulted the criticisms arising from the Federal Government’s legal approach for injunction against the industrial action, saying it was necessary, especially as NLC did not give the government the constitutional 15 days notice. On the waiver granted Dangote Group for the construction of a section of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road, specifically the section between Obajana-Kabba Road, Mr. Fashola said the road was important for the infrastructure development of the country. He said: “Companies are ordinarily supposed to pay income tax. There are existing policies in our laws which enable government to consider and give tax incentives. “Council considered and approved the proposal for Dangote Construction Company to build that section of the road because the tonnage of cement being produced from the factory has increased and the traffic in that area has increased; there has been unfortunate accidents also.”