Fuel Queues: APC Lacks ‘Political Will’ To Solve Subsidy Issues – PDP

Fuel queues surfaced in Lagos on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
Fuel queues surfaced in Lagos on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday said President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress lack the political will to solve the “perennial” issues of fuel subsidy.

“The resurgence of long fuel queues in our filling stations in major cities across the country further explains the lack of political will by the President Muhammadu Buhari  led All Progressives Congress administration in solving the perennial subsidy issues,” a note on the PDP’s verified social media accounts said.

“Nigeria is better with PDP.”

Fuel queues, which has rocked the Federal Capital Territory intermittently in the past few weeks, resurfaced in Lagos on Sunday.

Oil marketers had complained of the price of petrol compared to how much it took to deliver it to the final consumer.

 

However, the Federal Government has insisted that the pump price of petrol should remain at N165.

On Wednesday, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said it has resolved to maintain the status quo ante, even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) responded positively to the association’s request by releasing products from their tank farms that can last 32 days.’

The sight of long fuel queues has since abated in parts of Lagos.

‘Why remove subsidy?’

Nigeria has subsidised petrol since the early years of the 2000s.

Although the country is one of the largest producers of crude oil, the bulk of petrol consumed in the country is imported due to the paucity of local refining capacity.

Experts have long called for petrol subsidy removal, saying it diverts much needed resources that could have been invested in infrastructure, education, health and other development sectors.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks US, UK, Others To Ban IPOB

The Buhari administration had planned to remove subsidies in June this year but the move was halted after consultations with stakeholders such as the Nigeria Labour Congress.

Many Nigerians believe fuel subsidy is one of the few benefits that gets directly to citizens but the scheme has also been rocked by fraudulent activities.

On Tuesday, in a written note, to Bloomberg, President Buhari defended his administration’s decision to continue to subsidise petrol.

He said the government is working on boosting local capacity in order to stem the inflationary pressures that are likely to be triggered by a removal of subsidies.

“Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now?” What is good for the goose is good for the gander!” The President said.

“What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things.

“My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year. After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable.

“Boosting internal production for refined products shall also help. Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board.

“The exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that can suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens. As we step up domestic production – both in fuel (enabled by PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.”

Why Nigeria Has Not Removed Fuel Subsidy – Buhari

A file photo of an attendant filling the fuel tank of a car.

 

President Muhamamdu Buhari has defended the federal government’s decision to keep paying fuel subsidies.

In a response to Bloomberg, the President said the effects of removing fuel subsidies would have been too harsh on the Nigerian people.

He said the government is working on boosting local capacity in order to stem the inflationary pressures that are likely to be triggered by a removal of subsidies.

“Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now?” What is good for the goose is good for the gander!” The President said.

“What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks US, UK, Others To Ban IPOB

“My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year. After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable.

“Boosting internal production for refined products shall also help. Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board.

“The exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that can suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens. As we step up domestic production – both in fuel (enabled by PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.”

The President’s comment comes as parts of the country, including commercial nerve centre Lagos, battle an acute shortage of fuel.

Marketers Threaten To Halt Fuel Supply In North-West States Over N40bn Debt

A file photo of an attendant filling the fuel tank of a car.

 

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Gusau Depot, has threatened to stop transporting petroleum products within Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and parts of Katsina state.

The threat came following the Federal Government’s failure to settle its N40bn outstanding payment to IPMAN members, IPMAN’s Zonal Chairman, Yahya Kamba, said.

According to Mr Kamba, the payment is based on importation and transportation claims of up to 11 months.

 READ ALSO: Govt Can’t Do Everything, Private Sector Can Do Better, Says Prof Ife

He said the Federal Government has reneged on the agreement reached with the association.

“It is not a subsidy,” Mr Kamba said. “It is money that we marketers contributed. We have to pay a certain amount for every litre we purchase from the government. Just for the country to have a uniform pump price.

“We contributed this money just the way pensioners contribute their own. So there is no reason anyone can give us to say they have no money. We are asking for our contribution.

“Our arrangement is for the Ministry to pay us every week; when you transport this product, you are supposed to be paid within a week; but now we are counting months. We have counted up to 11 months. The payment has stopped since June 2021.”

You Can’t Spend N200bn On Universities, But Can Spend N4trn On Fuel Subsidy – ASUU Tackles FG

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the Federal Government of failing to prioritise the development of university education in the country.

ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, made the assertion on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He decried the situation where the government is focusing its attention on fuel subsidy which he believes does not exist, rather than showing interest in revamping the nation’s universities.

More than two months since lecturers downed tools, the ASUU president alleged that the government has been insensitive to the union’s demands.

“A government that cannot raise N200 billion to revamp all Nigerian universities and bring them to world standard, doesn’t have money to do that but that same government can raise N4 trillion for fuel subsidy; fuel subsidy and university education, which is more important to any country that wants to move forward?” he queried during the breakfast show.

“You can raise N4 trillion for fuel subsidy in a year, but you cannot raise N200 billion to fund your education because you don’t have money; it is a priority. You can spend N228 billion to feed children in primary and secondary schools, but you cannot raise N200 billion to fund your universities; it is an issue of priority, that is the problem.”

A file photo of ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke.

 

Osodeke said the government has refused to make any definite move to address the demands of the lecturers since the strike which crippled activities across public universities began in February.

According to him, nothing really has happened, and the government has not shown any sign that it is willing to resolve the issues.

The ASUU president listed some of the issues in contention to include renegotiations of the 2009 agreement, payment system for members, and revitalisation of the nation’s universities, among others.

He stressed that no concrete resolution was reached despite the series of meetings with the government delegation led by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

“Really, nothing significant has happened since we declared the strike about nine weeks ago, which means that this system (government) is really not interested in anything about education,” Osodeke stated.

“If all universities are shut down for about nine weeks and there is no single comment from the government’s side, it shows that something is really wrong.”

Senate Approves Buhari’s Request To Increase Fuel Subsidy To N4trn

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary in the Senate.

 

The Senate on Thursday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to increase fuel subsidy payments in 2022 to N4 trillion from N442.72 billion.

The legislators made the approval after considering the report of the Committee on Finance on the Revised 2022 Fiscal Framework.

The Senate also approved the President’s request to raise the oil price benchmark from $62 to $73 and the reduction of projected oil production volume from 1.883 million to 1.6 million barrels per day.

READ ALSO: Senate Asks Police To Investigate Death Of Gospel Singer Osinachi

Other recommendations of the committee adopted by the Senate include a cut in the provision for Federally Funded upstream projects being implemented by N200 billion from N352.80 and an increase in the Federal Government Independent Revenue of N400 billion.

The Senate also approved an additional provision of N182.45 billion to cater for the needs of the Nigeria Police Force.

Also approved were Domestic debt service provision of N76.13 billion, and net reductions in Statutory Transfers by N66.07 billion, as follows:

a. NDDC, by N13.46 billion from N102.78 billion to N89.32 billion;

b. NEDC, by N6.30 billion from N48.08 billion to N41.78 billion;

c. UBEC, by N23.16 billion from N112.29 billion to N89.13 billion;

d. Basic Health Care Fund, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion; and

e. NASENI, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion.

The Fiscal Deficit of N7.35 trillion in the 2022 budget was also approved.

Subsequently, the Senate passed the 2022 Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill.

“Congratulations for working so hard to ensure that we pass the 2022 Appropriation Act,” Senate President Ahmed Lawan said.

“The entire country is waiting for this Bill to be passed because this is the only way the government will provide services to the people of this country.

“We expect compliance with this Act when it is signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Ministries, Departments and Agencies should only carry out expenditures that has been approved in the Budget.”

Russia-Ukraine War

In a letter dated April 5, 2022 and read on the Senate floor on Tuesday, President Buhari said a review of the 2022 fiscal framework had become necessary due to new developments, including the Russia-Ukraine war.

The increase in fuel subsidy payments, he noted, was due to the suspension of fuel subsidy removal after concerns were raised by organised labour.

“As you are aware, there have been new developments both in the global economy as well as in the domestic economy which have necessitated the revision of the 2022 Fiscal Framework on which the 2022 Budget was based,” the President said.

“These developments include spikes in the market price of crude oil, aggravated by the Russian-Ukraine war, significantly lower oil production volume due principally to production shut-ins as a result of massive theft of crude oil between the production platforms and the terminals.

“The decision to suspend the removal of Petroleum Motor Spirit subsidy at a time when high crude oil prices have elevated the subsidy cost and has significantly eroded government revenues.”

Fuel Subsidy: PDP Tackles APC, Accuses FG Of Plot To Siphon N3trn

A file photo of an attendant filling the fuel tank of a car.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government of a plot to siphon N3 trillion under the guise of financing fuel subsidy.

In a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, it described the government’s request for the approval of the sum by the National Assembly as a scam.

While the main opposition party said it was not against suspension of the fuel subsidy removal, it stressed that spending N3 trillion for subsidising was outrageous and an unpardonable crime against Nigerians.

It also demanded full disclosure of specifics of the subsidy templates, including details of the cost of importation of petroleum products into the country.

The PDP, in the statement, urged the National Assembly to reject the request, saying approving such would be a great disservice to Nigerians who elected them as their representatives.

READ ALSO: Two New Speed Trains To Be On Track By 2022 Fourth Quarter – Sanwo-Olu

Ekiti PDP Holds Governorship Primary Election
A file photo of the PDP logo.

 

Read the full statement by the party below:

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is appalled by the bare-faced move of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to hide under fuel subsidy to siphon and fritter a staggering N3trillion, describing it as outrageous and unpardonable crime against Nigerians.

Whilst the PDP is not against subsidising petroleum products for Nigerians, our party rejects this wicked plot by the APC government to use heavily padded fuel subsidy claims to surreptitiously funnel trillions of naira into the pockets of corrupt APC leaders and their cronies in government ahead of their shameful exit in 2023.

The PDP demands full disclosure of specifics of the subsidy templates including details of the cost of importation of petroleum products into the country to warrant the additional N2.557 trillion being requested by the corrupt APC administration.

The PDP already has information on how corrupt APC leaders pushed for the additional N2.557 trillion to the N443 billion already approved for fuel subsidy in the 2022 budget just to create a surplus as a slush fund ostensibly for APC leaders to share as well as deploy to rig the 2023 elections.

The APC government cannot justify the proposed increase in fuel subsidy in the face of incontrovertible evidence of slowing economy and consequential decrease in consumption of petroleum products in Nigeria due largely to the rudderless, irresponsible, and insensitive economic policies of the APC as well as the adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nigerians have already noted that the proposed increase is consistent with APC’s typical padding of fuel subsidy ahead of every election cycle.

Is it not revealing that while fuel subsidy was N24 billion in 2016 and rose to N144.53 billion in 2017, it spiked to N878 billion in 2018 ahead of the 2019 elections; remained at N551.22 billion in the election year of 2019, only to drop to N102 billion in 2020, after the elections?

It is clear that the APC increased fuel subsidy to N1.4 trillion in 2021 and now barefacedly seeks an additional N2.557 trillion to have a cumulative subsidy bill of N3 trillion in 2022 to prosecute the 2023 elections having realized that it has a tough battle with Nigerians because of its monumental failures.

It is even more disturbing that the proposed increase is to be funded through external borrowings, which will further impoverish Nigerians, mortgage the future of our nation, and burden future generations of Nigerians just to finance the insatiable greed of APC leaders.

The PDP, standing with the Nigerian people, vehemently rejects the bandying of incoherent, unsubstantiated, and heavily doctored figures by the APC government in its desperate lies on domestic consumption and landing costs.

Our Party challenges the APC to present the details of importation costs to Nigerians as no genuine pricing template can support such criminal increase in fuel subsidy beyond the appropriate pricing which experts posit cannot be above N500 billion.

The PDP, therefore, calls on the National Assembly to stand with the people and reject the scandalous N2.557 trillion addition for fuel subsidy at this critical time as approving such would be a great and unpardonable disservice to Nigerians.

Signed:

Hon. Debo Ologunagba

National Publicity Secretary

NGF, Labour Question NNPC’s Fuel Subsidy ‘Removal Agenda’

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

The Nigeria Governors Forum and the Nigeria Labour Congress has queried the motives of subsidy administrations, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

This is according to a statement signed by NGF spokesperson Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo.

According to the statement, the NGF and NLC agreed, after a meeting this week, that the “lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds accrued therein.”

READ ALSO: NNPC Has Requested N3trn As Fuel Subsidy For 2022 – Finance Minister

NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, noted that action must be taken to ensure that Nigerians get direct benefits from subsidy and not just a few wealthy individuals and their cronies.

“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Fayemi said at the meeting.

 

Read the NGF’s full statement:

As a sequel to its meeting of the 19th of January the NGF, yesterday, met with the leadership of the NLC, led by its president Comrade Ayuba Waba, to deliberate on the fuel subsidy removal which both groups believe is a necessary action that the country must deal with now or in the nearest future.

The meeting which was held at the NGF secretariat in Maitama Abuja, brokered a partnership between the NGF and the NLC, as both parties agreed that the lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds accrued therein.

Delivering his opening remarks at the meeting also attended by the TUC president and a host of other leaders of organized Labour in the country, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi argued that the nation’s economy is at the precipice and that it has become necessary for the two groups to carefully verify all of NNPC’s estimates to ensure that whatever action is taken on subsidy, it would be the people that get direct benefits and not a few wealthy individuals and their cronies in the country.

Dr Fayemi told the Labour leaderships that subsidy removal has remained an on-gong conversation not just among governors but the country at large and emphasized that Governors cannot but be part of the solution providers in this onerous task that is confronting the nation.

The Ekiti State Governor further stated that “there are raging questions of accountability associated with subsidy removal in the country and observed that the NGF and the NLC can jointly work together to proffer solutions that heal the economy and provide succour to the Nigerian people.”

The NGF chairman who led a delegation of Governors Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, to the meeting stressed that governors cannot ignore the economics of petroleum, arguing that all the countries surrounding Nigeria including Niger, Mali, Cameroun and Ghana have their fuel pump price at the equivalent of a US dollar, arguing that Nigeria has a pump price that is far less than a dollar and is uncomfortable with the removal of subsidy until the challenge of what the NNPC is telling the country is confronted frontally.

“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Dr Fayemi declared.

On the part of the states, Dr Fayemi stated that only about eight states are benefitting directly from the subsidy while all the others have to contend with the situation on their own.

The Governor of Ekiti State also insisted that the partnership with the NLC must confront the perennial issue of palliatives for the common man towards cushioning the effects of subsidy removal on the citizenry stating that “not tackling the problem now is tantamount to postponing the evil day”.

“Finding succour for the ordinary Nigerian at this time is absolutely imperative and necessary now more than ever,” the NGF Chairman emphasised.

One of the asks, which formed the terms of convening the meeting was to also plead with Labour to jettison their decision to embark on what they referred to as a mega-strike and join hands with Governors to consider the dimensions at play on the subsidy removal palaver because Governors through their internal mechanisms had already found out that what is paid is egregiously higher than what is actually being declared by the country’s petroleum industry managers.

Commenting, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who usually serves the NGF as its shining light on economic issues, on his part warned that we have a choice of continuing to behave like Father Christmas (Santa Claus) or take concrete actions on a problem that is permanently with us rather than throwing away N3tr on subsidy.

Governor Obaseki suggested that the nation can, in the interim, increase productivity to reduce imports and create jobs. He also emphasised that the country would do well to revamp the power sector, which is virtually comatose because without power, we will continue to throw millions of our people into unemployment, and ultimately, poverty, reminding all present that we should know that we have a country to manage.

The Governor of Plateau state, Rt. Hon Simon Bako Lalong who like Governor Obaseki also joined the meeting virtually recalled that the NGF had spent three years on this matter because we cannot continue with subsidising petroleum products. He stated that we must find options and create opportunities that address the hardships that stare our people in the face.

Lalong volunteered that the painstaking work that led to the solutions that the NGF was highlighting took a year to script together and warned therefore that the fact that we are sitting here with Labour to resolve this contending issue does not mean that as we leave the table we should go to sleep. Instead, Governor Lalong said the teams from the two groups should immediately set out to work to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

This meeting took place barely an hour before the NLC announced the suspension of its mega-strike, as he disclosed to the governors that their committee had consulted widely and decided to call it off before arriving at the NGF secretariat.

Both Comrade Ayuba Waba and the TUC president stressed their lack of appreciation of the trust deficit that characterised previous negotiations and wondered why the subsidy issue had always been shrouded in lack of transparency on the part of government.

The unionists argued that the conflicting figures that always came from the managers of the petroleum sector had always tended towards inefficiency which have remained, to the people and to Labour, completely objectionable

NNPC Warns Against ‘Panic Buying’, Says There’s Sufficient Fuel

Report Any Station Selling Petrol Above N145, NNPC Tells Nigerians
A fuel pump nozzle.

 

Following the return of fuel queues in some parts of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Wednesday, assured Nigerians that the company has sufficient stock of Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, to meet the needs of Nigerians.

In a statement released on Wednesday by the Group Managing Director, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Garba Deen Muhammad, the corporation warned against panic-buying, advising Nigerians to ignore all rumours that there are plans to increase pump prices.

Read Also: NNPC Has Requested N3trn As Fuel Subsidy For 2022 – Finance Minister

“The NNPC Ltd. wishes to assure the public that the Company has sufficient PMS stock to meet the needs of Nigerians.

“The public is, therefore, advised not to engage in panic buying of petrol; and to I ignore all rumours that may suggest otherwise,” the statement read.

The corporation also assured Nigerians that it remains deeply committed to ensuring energy security for the country.

This comes hours after the NNPC had requested the sum of three trillion naira (N3,000,000,000,000) as fuel subsidy for 2022.

Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting which was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“In 2022, because of the increased crude oil price per barrel in the global market, now at $80 per barrel, and also because NNPC’s assessment is that Nigeria is that the country is consuming 65.7 million litres per day, that we would end up with an incremental cost of N3 trillion in 2022,” the minister added.

According to Mrs Ahmed, by implication, the Federal Government will have to make an incremental provision of N2.557 trillion in order to meet subsidy requirements which currently averages about N270 billion per month.

Suspension Of Fuel Subsidy Removal Will Result In More Borrowings, Says Adesina

 

Nigeria may have to continue to borrow due to the suspension of the removal of fuel subsidy, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

“Head or tail, Nigeria will have to pay a price,” he said. “It’s either we pay the price for the removal in consonance and in conjunction with the understanding of the people, but if that will not come, the other cost is that borrowings may continue, and things may be difficult fiscally with both the states and the Federal Government.

“You know how much could have been saved if the subsidy was removed and how it could have been diverted to other areas and spheres of national life. But if you do not go that way now – and I agree that it may not be auspicious to go that way, then we have to pay a price.”

Last year, the Senate approved some loan requests by the government. This included the approval of $6.1 billion, as well as the $16,230,077,718 and €1,020,000,000 loan requests in July and November respectively.

According to Adesina, oil prices have been fluctuating globally for years as a result of one reason or the other, particularly due to COVID since 2019.

He stated that the price witnessed a decline as low as $30 per barrel, but later rose above $80 per barrel.

READ ALSO: NLC Suspends Planned Nationwide Protest

Mr Femi Adesina says the suspension of the fuel subsidy removal has nothing to do with the coming elections.

 

An initial announcement to remove fuel subsidy in June was rejected by individuals and groups accusing the government of inflicting more suffering on Nigerians.

On Monday, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said removing fuel subsidy at this time would be problematic, thus the decision has been suspended.

But many, including the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, believe the suspension of the fuel subsidy removal has to do with the coming elections in 2023.

“It is a valid thing [to do],” Adesina said of the government’s suspension of the removal, adding, “but is this done because of elections next year? No.”

“It is done because as the minister (of finance) stated, the timing is not auspicious, inflation is still high. In the past eight months, we saw inflation reducing but the last month, it went up again; further consultations need to happen with all the stakeholders.”

For the President’s spokesman, the government across the world is always mindful of its actions and decisions in a pre-election year, citing the developments in the United States and their impacts on the country’s poll.

He also debunked claims that the present administration’s proposal to extend the removal of fuel subsidy by 18 months was intended to booby-trap the next president.

“That was not the intention, the intention was also stated – the timing is not right, it will exacerbate the hardship of the people and the President genuinely cares,” Adesina said.

“Politics is a part of our lives, but elections will just be one event in the life of the country. When elections come, they go, the country continues. This fuel subsidy, whether it stays or goes, is going to have a serious impact on the economy.”

FG Didn’t Suspend Fuel Subsidy Removal Because Of 2023 Elections, Says Adesina

A file photo of Mr Femi Adesina.

 

Amid the controversy trailing the planned removal of fuel subsidy, Mr Femi Adesina says the Federal Government did not rescind its decision because of the coming elections.

Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“It is a valid thing [to do],” he said of the government’s suspension of the removal, adding, “but is this done because of elections next year? No.”

“It is done because as the minister (of finance) stated, the timing is not auspicious, inflation is still high. In the past eight months, we saw inflation reducing but the last month, it went up again; further consultations need to happen with all the stakeholders.”

READ ALSO: FG Suspended Fuel Subsidy Removal Because Of 2023 Elections, Says Akpata

The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had initially announced that the government would only make provision for fuel subsidy in the 2022 budget up till June.

This sparked an outcry from various individuals and groups that accused the government of inflicting more suffering on Nigerians, especially those who were already struggling to make ends meet.

 

Economic Impact

Amid plans by the organised labour to embark on a nationwide protest, Mrs Ahmed announced on Monday that the government would suspend the removal, explaining that to go ahead with the decision at this time would be problematic.

But many, including the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, believe the suspension of the fuel subsidy removal has to do with the coming elections in 2023.

Adesina, in his reaction, said government across the world is always mindful of its actions and decisions in a pre-election year, citing the developments in the United States and their impacts on the country’s poll.

He also debunked claims that the present administration’s proposal to extend the removal of fuel subsidy by 18 months was intended to booby-trap the next president.

“That was not the intention, the intention was also stated – the timing is not right, it will exacerbate the hardship of the people and the President genuinely cares,” the presidential spokesman said.

“Politics is a part of our lives, but elections will just be one event in the life of the country. When elections come, they go, the country continues. This fuel subsidy, whether it stays or goes, is going to have a serious impact on the economy.”

Fuel Subsidy: NLC Suspends Planned Nationwide Protest

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has suspended its planned nationwide protest.

The decision comes hours after the union had vowed to continue with its planned nationwide rally on Thursday and after the Federal Government announced the suspension of the planned removal of the fuel subsidy.

The leadership of the Congress says, for now, it plans to continue to engage with the government on the issues of ensuring local refining of petroleum, creation of sustainable jobs and affordable price of petrol for Nigerian workers and people.

“Following the reversal and the approach by government, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress met this afternoon virtually, to consider this position of the government,” NLC President, Ayuba Wabba said at a press conference.

“The NEC, after vigorous debate, took a decision to suspend the planned nation-wide protest scheduled for the 27th of January 2022 and the national protest also scheduled for 2nd of February 2022.”

Speaking about the planned rally earlier on Tuesday on Channels Television‘s Sunrise Daily, the NLC Deputy President, Joe Ajaero, explained that it was aimed at sensitising Nigerians.

Read Also: FG Proposes Extension Of Fuel Subsidy Removal By 18 Months, Seeks To Amend PIA

“NLC is still standing on its position,” he had said. “The Federal Government didn’t say they have abolished it, they are postponing the evil day.

“What we are doing is sensitisation of Nigerians on this fuel subsidy removal or so-called increase in the pump price of petroleum products.”

According to the labour leader, the fuel subsidy removal will only inflict more suffering on Nigerians.

 

 

“The NLC is sensitising Nigerians that this is not sustainable; that the idea of fuel subsidy is a hoax which they are using to inflict pains on Nigerians,” he said.

The Federal Government had earlier announced the suspension of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had on Monday said the government had suspended the plan to remove fuel subsidy.

She explained that the government would make provisions for fuel subsidy beyond its initial June deadline in the 2022 budget.

FG Proposes Delay Of Fuel Subsidy Removal By 18 Months, Seeks To Amend PIA

 

The Federal Government is proposing to extend the period for the implementation of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, by 18 months.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, announced this on Tuesday while briefing State House correspondents in Abuja.

He disclosed that the government has concluded plans to approach the National Assembly to amend the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

READ ALSO: FG Moves To Suspend Removal Of Fuel Subsidy

“We are proposing an 18-month extension but what the National Assembly is going to approve is up to them,” the minister said. “We would approve an 18-month extension and then it is up to the National Assembly to look at it and pass the amendment as they see it.

“With assent by the President on August 16, 2021, the PMS subsidy removal was therefore expected to take place effective February 16, 2022. However, following extensive consultations with all key stakeholders within and outside the government, it has been agreed that the implementation period for the removal of the subsidy should be extended.

“This extension will give all the stakeholders time to ensure that the implementation is carried out in a manner that ensures all necessary modalities are in place to cushion the effect of the PMS subsidy removal, in line with prevailing economic realities.

“The President assures that his administration will continue to put in place all necessary measures to protect the livelihoods of all Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.”

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, addresses reporters during the weekly ministerial briefing at the State House in Abuja on January 25, 2022.

 

Sylva, who chairs the PIA Implementation Committee, stressed that the decision of the executive arm of government to seek an amendment of the law was not politically motivated.

Rather, he explained that such a move has become necessary to halt the potential suffering of the vulnerable in the society.

The minister believes other measures such as the Dangote refinery, the Port Harcourt refinery, and other modular refineries will have significantly come on stream by the end of the year.

According to him, the new PIA provides for unrestricted market pricing for PMS from the effective date.

Sylva, however, stated that the PIA also envisaged the potential for supply disruption with its resultant effect on the economy.

“Consequently, it provides for a window of six months from the effective date for the government to request the services of NNPC Limited as the supplier of last resort.

“This is to forestall supply disruptions and guide market readiness preparatory to migration to the deregulated pricing regime,” he added.

President Muhammadu Buhari, he stated, has assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to put in place all necessary measures to protect the livelihoods of the citizens, especially the most vulnerable.