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Presidency insists subsidy gone as Atiku alleges lack of transparency

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Bola Tinubu administration of diverting public funds through…

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Bola Tinubu administration of diverting public funds through petrol subsidy.

Atiku said the refusal of the present administration to reveal how much is being spent on subsidy shows that it is diverting funds secretly.

Atiku, in a statement, was reacting to the stand of the Presidency that its policy on fuel subsidy remains the same.

In a statement through presidential Aide Bayo Onanuga, on Thursday, the Presidency insisted that its position on fuel subsidy had not changed.

Onanuga insisted that “The fuel subsidy regime has ended. There is no N5.4 trillion being provisioned for it in 2024, as being widely speculated and discussed.”

But reacting through his spokesman Paul Ibe, Atiku said, “Tinubu has brought the shady nature of running Lagos to the federal level. He claims subsidy is gone but his Special Adviser on Energy, Olu Verheijen, says they are intervening from time to time while his Finance Minister, Wale Edun, described subsidy removal as an ‘ongoing process’.

“A document authored by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy revealing how much subsidy is being paid is now being disowned by the very authors of the document.

“Both the World Bank and the IMF have revealed in separate reports that Nigeria is still paying petrol subsidies, but the Tinubu government refuses to come clean. Even a senior member of the APC had revealed that subsidy was being paid.”

According to the former Vice President, “For a man who claims to be on a mission to attract foreign direct investment, it is ironic that he cannot see that his policy flip flops and lies are capable of dissuading investors. He must come clean on this subsidy issue since he doubles as petroleum minister.

“The Tinubu administration should be courageous enough to own their policies and outcome with their full chest and responsible enough to be accountable for their actions to Nigerians.

“This denial lends credence that money meant for the Federation Account, which ought to be shared to states and local governments, is being diverted without any form of accountability whatsoever.”

He also called on the National Assembly to act on the development, saying “There is a need for the National Assembly to get to the bottom of the matter rather than focusing on frivolous issues.

“The National Assembly needs to be alive to its responsibilities, especially in the area of oversight. Posterity will not be kind to members of the National Assembly if they continue to look the other way while daylight robbery is taking place,” the former Vice President said.

Onanuga had earlier reacted to a leaked draft copy report of the Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan (ASAP) presented to President Tinubu by the finance minister, Wale Edun, on Tuesday.

The ASAP, designed to address key challenges affecting the reform initiatives and stimulate development in various sectors of the economy, showed that the estimated expenditure on fuel subsidy for 2024 is N5.4trn, a sum of N1.8trn more than the amount spent in 2023.

“At current rates, expenditure on fuel subsidy is projected to reach N5.4trn by the end of 2024. This compares unfavourably with N3.6trn in 2023 and N2.0trn in 2022,” a draft copy of the ASAP presented by Edun read.

Reacting to the development, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, on Thursday, urged the public and the media to disregard the documents.

The statement, titled, ‘Leaked documents on fiscal policy proposals not official’, said: “The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to two fiscal policy documents in circulation that are being given wide coverage by the mainstream media and social media platforms.

“One of the documents titled Inflation Reduction and Price Stability (Fiscal Policy Measure etc) Order 2024 is being shared as if it were an executive order signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“The other is a 65-page draft document with the title “Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP), which contains suggestions on how to improve the Nigerian economy. President Tinubu received a copy of the draft on Tuesday.

“We urge the public and the media to disregard the two documents and cease further discussions on them. None is an approved official document of the Federal Government of Nigeria. They are all policy proposals that are still subject to reviews at the highest level of government. Indeed, one has ‘draft’ clearly written on it.”

Onanuga quoted the Coordinating Minister of the Economy as saying: “It is important to understand that policymaking is an iterative process involving multiple drafts and discussions before any document is finalised.

“We assure the public that the official position on the documents will be made available after comprehensive reviews and approvals are completed.

“The government wants to restate that its position on fuel subsidy has not changed from what President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared on 29 May 2023. The fuel subsidy regime has ended. There is no N5.4trn being provisioned for it in 2024, as being widely speculated and discussed.”

He further clarified: “As previously stated by government officials, including myself, President Tinubu announced the end of the fuel subsidy program last year, and this policy remains firmly in place.

“The Federal Government is committed to mitigating the effects of this removal and easing the cost-of-living pressures on Nigerians.

“Our strategy focuses on addressing key factors such as food inflation, which is significantly impacted by transport costs. With the implementation of our CNG initiative, which aims to displace high PMS and AGO costs, we expect to further reduce these costs.

“Our commitment to ending unproductive subsidies is steadfast, as is our dedication to supporting our most vulnerable populations.”

In December, the government said contrary to the claim by the World Bank that the government is still paying subsidy on petrol, the era of petrol subsidy is “gone for good”.

In April, the former governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, said the federal government is spending more on petrol subsidy than before.

PDP demands public enquiry

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Tinubu to immediately address Nigerians and order a public enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the revelation that N5.4trn Fuel Subsidy money would be paid in 2024.

Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, in a statement said the revelation that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration “is secretly paying a whopping N5.4trn as fuel subsidy for 2024 even after the president announced an end to fuel subvention further confirms PDP’s stand that the APC administration is a cesspit of corruption and deceit.”

PDP said the revelation by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy showed “the callousness of the APC administration which was forcing Nigerians to buy fuel at very exorbitant price of over N800 per litre in various parts of the country.

The party demanded that President Tinubu immediately clears the air and come clean by personally addressing Nigerians and ordering a public enquiry into the reported N5.4trn fuel subsidy under his watch.

“President Tinubu should immediately review his economic team with a view to getting capable hands and checking the corruption prevalent in the administration,” it added.

The main opposition party also asked the president to review the economic policies of his administration “Strangulating the people, recognizing, accepting and reviewing a flawed economic policy is not weakness but courage. That is what defines a leader at a time like this.”

The party warned that there is hunger and destitution in the land.

According to the party, “Nigerians deserves to know; Where is the N5.4trn being taken from? Which agency of government is responsible for the payment of the said fuel subsidy and to who? What are the criteria used for payment? What volume of fuel is being subsidized and at what cost? Why is petrol still selling exorbitantly even with the revelation of the continuing payment of fuel subsidy? These are questions that need to be answered.”


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