Home Nigeria Shehu: why Buhari did not remove petrol subsidy, float Naira

Shehu: why Buhari did not remove petrol subsidy, float Naira

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Thenationonlineng.net

Former Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu yesterday gave reasons why petrol subsidy removal and unify exchange rates policies were not implemented under the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shehu said although Buhari “cued up” the two policies, he had to apply the brakes because of elections and the volatile security situation in the country.

His defence was contained in a series of tweets on his verified Twitter handle, Garba Shehu (@GarShehu).

Shehu made the tweets shortly after former Bauchi State Governor Mallam Isa Yuguda alleged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Company Limited (NNPCL) and marketers were a key part of the petrol subsidy racket.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29 put an end to subsidy payments by the Federal Government. The development allowed marketers to fix pump price of the products.

In its price modulation, the NNPCL told his stations nationwide to dispense a litre of petrol at between N488 and N557.

Tweeting yesterdays, Shehu, who was Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity, said that only a new government with “goodwill that fills a warehouse” could remove subsidy without upheaval

According to him, Tinubu enjoys such goodwill.

Faulting negative comments on Buhari not stopping subsidy payment, the former presidential spokesman listed others (subsidies) that were put to an end by his principal.

Shehu added that the coming of the Petroleum Industry Acts during the Buhari era paved the way for subsidy removal.

He justified his response because the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was yet to respond to the negative comments.

According to him, Buhari’s decision not to remove subsidy and unify the exchange rates then was best for the country and the APC.

The tweets read: “The decision to remove subsidies, as in our case – and we believe in all situations – was not for the President to take all by himself.

“That’s why it’s important to remind ourselves – and all those who have conveniently forgotten – that the Buhari administration had been on this pathway from the very beginning in 2015.

“Removing subsidies for the Naira and PMS was cued and put on hold. Look for example in the Petroleum Industry Act. The important decision was kept for a better time.

“It could not have come at a time when tensions were high in the country and no responsible leader would have added fuel to the fire.

“In the view of many-including those in the security circles- only a new administration with goodwill that fills a warehouse can attempt this, and here now comes the wit and grit of the Tinubu government.

“Finally, we must be politically honest with ourselves. The Buhari administration in its last days could not have gone the whole way because the APC had an election to win. And that would have been the case with any political party that was seeking election for another term with a new principal at its head.

“Poll after polls showed that the party would have been thrown out of office if the decision as envisaged by the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was made.

“With the election now behind us, a capable leader as we now have in place, is best positioned to move forward. We have nothing but confidence that the new administration will carry the nation and all its constituents into a stable future in the aftermath of these major economic and financial decisions.

“As they say, there are times when you have to lose in order to win.”

Shehu said those asking wrong questions or thinking otherwise, should remember that Buhari removed electricity, fertiliser, Hajj/Christian Pilgrim, diesel, aviation fuel, and cooking gas subsidies.

He wrote: “The massive electricity subsidy, the fraudulent fertiliser subsidy. Hajj/Christian Pilgrim subsidies. Remember them?

“The diesel subsidy. The aviation fuel subsidy. LPFO. Kerosene. Cooking gas and the other subsidy policies we found in place and put them firmly on the ground. Remember them?

“For those with short memories, many of those subsidies were all in place when President Buhari was elected to office in 2015: all those in place were gone by May 2023,   including the annual fertiliser subsidy that weighed  60-100 billion  (that’s trillion nairas in about 10 years – yes you read that right) heavy on the federal budget each year.

“So now, Buhari didn’t remove the petrol subsidy – but is a vitally important stage, he removed every other budget-busting, egregious, economic-growth-crushing subsidy along the way.

“So far, I have refrained from answering these repeated questions on the removal in Nigeria of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and that arising from the dual rates of the naira in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the parallel market: Why did Buhari “fail” to do these?

“First of all, my thinking is that instead of the former President answering this question, it is the party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) that is best suited to speak and failing to do this, we are forced to say what will follow here.

“Secondly, we are mindful of the fact that with a Tinubu/Shettima presidency now in place and for which there is a ‘new sheriff in town’.

“We do not want to distract them from the onerous tasks facing them and the nation. Neither is it our wish to take the spotlight away from them in any way.”

Shehu, however, lauded the Tinubu administration for the way it handled its affairs and addressed national issues.

“In terms of the timings of the decisions to remove fuel subsidy and unify the currency, the Tinubu/Shettima administration has done overwhelmingly well. Even more importantly, they have been most dexterous in managing the aftermath of the decisions by successfully avoiding any crisis.

“To this extent, our wish and prayers are that fellow countrymen will continue to support the new leadership in these very laudable decisions and, in particular, for the Labour leadership and civil society to work with them to ensure that the palliative efforts as promised are successfully implemented.”

· NNPCL, marketers involved in subsidy scam, ex-Governor Yuguda alleges

Also yesterday, one-time Yuguda said that until May 29,    fuel subsidy was a scam run by the NNPCL in conjunction with marketers and other stakeholders in the oil sector.

Yuguda said he was privileged to know this when he chaired a committee on subsidy.

Yuguda, who was also a former Minister of State for  Transport, spoke with a national television station

He said: “I am sad to let Nigerians know what I saw; we came across situations where subsidy was claimed on pipelines that never existed.

“They (NNPCL and others) just claim that they have pumped X amount of either finished products or crude.

“Those that claim to pump the products and those that are in the subsidy scam, they just fill papers, invoices and they claim subsidy.”

When asked if it was indeed the NNPCL that was making these claims, Yuguda replied: “Who else?”

The former governor narrated an incident when someone highlighted the kind of money he made from the scam.

He said: “I remember someone in the oil industry, who during a meeting of an economic think-tank called the then president aside and said, ‘Mr. President, please stop this subsidy, we are tired of making money.”

Yuguda did not name the said president.

Calling for the prosecution of those involved in the subsidy scam, he said: “The records are all there, and there is no time limit to investigate these people. If the government has the political will, these individuals can be held to account.”

The former governor also lamented that there was  no reason why the nation’s refineries are not functional.

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