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Atiku tackles Tinubu as FG projects N5.4trn for fuel subsidy in 2024

A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday challenged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stop deceiving Nigerians about his administration’s true position on petrol subsidy. He said…

A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday challenged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stop deceiving Nigerians about his administration’s true position on petrol subsidy.

He said contrary to Tinubu’s public posturing about petrol subsidy removal, the administration had been secretly paying trillions of naira for petrol subsidy.

According to him, subsidy payment under Tinubu’s watch is likely to hit N5.4 trillion this year.

A draft copy report of the Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan (ASAP) presented to Tinubu on Tuesday by the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, showed that petrol subsidy was projected to gulp N5.4 trillion in 2024 as against the N3.6 trillion budgeted for the same intervention in 2023.

Tinubu had, during his swearing-in at Eagle Square, Abuja on May 29, 2023, declared that the fuel subsidy payment was gone; the step World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other stakeholders applauded.

“At current rates, expenditure on fuel subsidy is projected to reach N5.4 trillion by the end of 2024. This compares unfavourably with N3.6 trillion in 2023 and N2.0 trillion in 2022,” the report said.

Edun said the fuel subsidy removal “is an ongoing process that depends on a combination of factors.”

He said the government was working to ensure a complete elimination of fuel subsidies in the country’s economy, adding that the policy direction of the government now focuses more on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to power energy in the country.

“Clearly, it is a combination of pivoting away from petroleum imports. Now, we are focusing more on CNG. It is an ongoing conversation, it is an ongoing process of ensuring that fuel subsidy is eliminated from the Nigerian economy, that is what Mr. President’s intent is and that is what is being worked towards,” he said.

In his reaction, Atiku asked Tinubu to stop deceiving Nigerians about his administration’s true position on fuel subsidy, alleging that his trial-and-error policies have failed Nigerians.

“Ever since, it has been a bragging right of Tinubu and officials of his administration. I had in my statement reviewing the one year of the Bola Tinubu administration urged the government to come clean on the actual position of the subsidy policy.

“These were my exact words: ‘…provide clarity on the fuel subsidy regime, including the fiscal commitments and benefits from the fuel subsidy reform and the impact of this on the Federation Accounts.

“It is curious that since April 2024, fuel queues have mounted at many filling stations across Nigeria, and the infamous ‘black market’ has sprouted in several states. How much PMS is being imported and distributed, and at what cost? What is the implicit subsidy?”

“If the subsidy regime had been characterised by opaqueness, what would we say of a situation where the subsidy is still being paid under the cover without Nigerians in the know?

“Like millions of Nigerians, I was shocked to learn through media reports that the “government is still supporting downstream consumption.”

“Now we know that expenditure on fuel subsidy may reach N5.4 trillion in 2024, compared to the N3.6 trillion spent in 2023, the same year that Tinubu claimed to have abolished fuel subsidy

“I wish to restate that Nigeria is not working, and what we have had in a little over a year is a cocktail of trial-and-error economic policies. Paying subsidies and lying about it is nothing to brag about. Nigerians deserve better than this deception.”

 

By Sunday Micheal Ogwu, Idowu Isamotu & Baba Martins

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