The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council has said the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will decide the date the fuel subsidy will be removed.
Though the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) said the subsidy policy would end by June when the budget for the initiative would lapse, the Chief Spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress PCC, Festus Keyamo, on Sunday, noted that the next government would determine the terminal date for the subsidy regime.
There has been apprehension over the planned removal of subsidy with marketers and other petroleum stakeholders projecting that the development may push fuel prices to N750 per litre.
Despite the anxiety over the issue, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria last week called for subsidy removal.
PENGASSAN’s President, Festus Osifo, who said this at the National Executive Council meeting of the association in Abuja, implored the government to ensure the speedy rehabilitation of Nigeria’s refineries, stressing that this would help ease the hardship that could arise from the halt of fuel subsidy.
But the Nigeria Labour Congress has vowed to resist the plan, insisting that the refineries must be functional before the subsidy can be tampered with.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited recently said the country was spending over N400bn monthly on petroleum subsidy which it argued is largely unsustainable.
Speaking with our correspondent, Keyamo stated that he had no doubt that the Tinubu presidency would terminate subsidy payments in line with the plan of the Buhari regime.
He, however, cautioned that since government and not all policy, was a continuum, the former Lagos governor should be left alone to decide on the date of his choice to execute it.
The PCC spokesman also explained that June 2023 was chosen by the FG to officially strike out fuel subsidies because the budget did not capture it beyond that date.
He stated, “It is one of the policies by which we campaigned. I cannot sit here and tell you when exactly it will be done. But the removal of subsidies is something that the president-elect pledged to do. Not only him. Virtually all the leading presidential candidates took the same position.
“Why the FG targeted June (to end subsidy) was that the budget only provided for subsidy up to June. That was the reason. But the new government will decide when it wants to. Of course, you know that when a new government takes over, the country is at its beck and call. Yes, I agree that government is a continuum. But all policies are not a continuum.”
On what the president-elect plans to do to cushion the impact of the removal of the subsidy, the PCC spokesman gave assurances that Tinubu would definitely look into it.
He stated, “I can assure you that the president-elect being who he is will not do that without corresponding palliative (measures) to the masses. I can tell you that confidently.”
In the same vein, Keyamo also cautioned the NLC not to incite the masses against the decision, noting that the Labour Party presidential standard bearer, Peter Obi, similarly endorsed the subsidy removal during the build-up to the February 25 polls.
Recall that Obi promised to phase out fuel subsidy completely if elected as the president.
Reacting to the NLC and the Trade Union Congress’ opposition to the planned subsidy removal, Keyamo dismissed their stance, insisting that NLC had no moral right to ask the Federal Government to retain fuel subsidy when it openly endorsed a presidential candidate that called for its removal.
“This was what I have been saying since last year. All of you in the media did not give it any attention. I knew what was coming. That was why I kept asking why the NLC was supporting Peter Obi and his Labour Party.
“Organised labour has no moral right to turn around this time to say they want to uphold fuel subsidy when removal of fuel subsidy was one of the cardinal campaign points of Peter Obi. Yet, the NLC threw their weight behind him. What moral justification do they have to want to uphold it now? At the end of the day, it is political. So they should tell the nation why they did that. Now is the time for judgment,” he said.
PDP faults APC
While the Peoples Democratic Party expressed its support for the removal of fuel subsidy to free funds for the development of critical infrastructure, it doubted the readiness of the Tinubu government to remove it.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ibrahim Abdullahi said, “How can APC say they will remove fuel subsidy? They can’t do it. They criticized the PDP-led government for failing to remove subsidies. Now, they have been in government for eight years but they have done nothing.
‘’So, Nigerians should not believe them when they talk about subsidy removal because it is an area they know nothing about. As a matter of fact, they have been embroiled in subsidy fraud.”
Also speaking, the National Publicity Secretary of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Major Agbo said the party would not support subsidy removal as “that will bring a lot of hardship on Nigerians.”
According to him, “The idea of subsidy in the first place is to protect poor citizens and give them a sense of belonging. If the subsidy is removed, it means vulnerable citizens would suffer more and NNPP will never endorse the sufferings of Nigerians.”
He further took a swipe at the ruling party for what he called its hypocritical stand on subsidy, saying, “While they were preparing to come to power eight years ago, they said subsidy was a fraud. So, what do they now want to remove?’’
Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, have supported the call by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria that the fuel subsidy be stopped in June this year.