The President Muhammadu Buhari government on Wednesday stirred what can be described as a hornet’s nest when its Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, revealed that plans were at the advanced stage to return toll gate on the federal highways, stressing that there was no law that stopped the government from having toll gate on federal roads.
Fashola, flanked by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “There is no reason why we can’t toll, there was a policy of the government to abolish tolls or as it were, dismantle toll plaza but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.
“We expect to return toll plazas, We have concluded their designs of what they will look like, what materials they will be rebuilt with, what new considerations must go into them. What we are looking at now and trying to conclude is how the bank end runs.”
This disclosure, which was the high point of the press briefing at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, came fifteen years after the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo scrapped toll gates across the country.
It also came at a time when President Buhari had declared that the federal government will not inflict additional hardship on citizens, rather it will keep seeking ways to ameliorate their sufferings and create a more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.
“I want to assure you that, as an administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,’’ Buhari had told the new executive of Trade Union Congress led by its President, Quadri Olaleye, at the State House.
As is to be expected, this planned reintroduction of toll gates on the nation’s highways has started generating reactions from some Nigerians across board, including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
PDP Blows Hot
The Peoples Democratic Party, in a statement issued Wednesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “such insensitive idea, in the midst of excruciating economic hardship and high costs of living occasioned by the harsh policies of the Buhari administration, is completely ill-conceived and anti-people.”
The party insisted that the planned toll gates at best, “amounts to executive bullying which cannot be justified under any guise as it will lead to more increase in costs of goods and services across the country”.
It added, “Only recently, President Buhari approved the increase of Value Added Tax, VAT, from 5% to 7.2% despite outcry by Nigerians, who are also being made to pay exorbitant tariffs for electricity and other essential services.
“Since President Buhari came into office in 2015, his administration had continued to increase prices and impose all manner of levies on Nigerians which proceeds are being frittered by the cabal in the presidency leading to a bleeding economy and despondency among the citizenry.
“The PDP says that instead of putting more pressure on already impoverished Nigerians by introducing toll gates at this point in time, President Buhari should exert himself, seek ways of creating wealth out of the abundant resources at the disposal of his administration or make haste to surrender the reign of governance to more competent hands.
“Nigerians could recall that the PDP administration, in keeping with our determination to ensure the wellbeing and economic prosperity of our citizens, dismantled toll gates, cut tax profiles and applied our energies towards wealth creation.
“It is therefore certain that if our nation were under a PDP administration, as desired by Nigerians, competent hands would have been on the deck to proffer ways to create wealth for governance instead of turning our citizens into vassals who are overburdened by heavy taxes.”
Nigerians Vent Too
Since the story broke, Nigerians have taken to social media platforms available to them, particularly Opera News comment section and Twitter, to air their views regarding Fashola’s disclosure. These views are presented below:
BREAKING: FG to reintroduce toll gates scrapped by Obasanjo. #Nigeria
I can see Tinubu’s handwriting at Federal Level. That’s one of the danger of getting greedy people like him into power, all they see around is how to extort every citizen like #Lagos.https://t.co/rKU8HEV7L3
— AyeMojuba 🇳🇬 (@ayemojubar) October 2, 2019
Facts that Buhari & APC must note.
When toll gates were abolished certain amount of money or percent was incorporated into the pump price of PMS to make it easy for citizens.
Will this government consider this fact before erecting toll gates again?
— Olisa Lawrence (@lawrence_olisa) October 2, 2019
Nigerian Government Returns Toll Gates On Federal Highways..in just a month.. VAT increase.. CBN increase..FIRS increase.. without increasing of minimum wage.. what again do you need to confirm that this government is a scam?@ProfOsinbajo @renoomokri @NGRPresident
— ifediba Tobenna (@ifedibaTobenna2) October 2, 2019
” I agree with Buhari, all the roads must have toll gates. Thank God those of us in APC will show our membership card and we will not pay anything “.
— Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed (@crownmed) October 2, 2019