The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has not directed anyone in his administration to implement the removal of petroleum subsidy.
This is coming against the backdrop of the statement made in October 2021, by the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that the federal government would only make provision for petroleum subsidy for the first 6 months of 2022 as the administration moves towards the complete deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry.
This was made known by Lawan, while briefing State House Correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday, to convey the concerns of his constituents on various issues including the proposed removal of subsidy.
What the Senate President is saying
The Senate President said that lawmakers are worried about the agitations and protests across the country on the matter, which prompted the discussion with the President. He said he was glad to inform Nigerians that President Buhari has not instructed anyone to remove fuel subsidy.
Lawan said, “He didn’t tell anybody that we should go remove petroleum subsidy. And those of us who represent the people know how people are already stressed over and again . . . it is going to be too much for them.’’
Going further, he raised doubts over claims that Nigerians consume 100 million litres of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) daily, attributing such level of consumption to smuggling activities.
The Senate President explained that while it is impossible to consume that much within the boundaries of the country alone, there is a need to critically investigate to discover the truth.
He blamed the smuggling of petroleum products on the failure of the government to contain the menace, a situation that has pushed the burden of payment on the ordinary citizen.
He said, “I know and I agree that the subsidy is very heavy. But I think we must never transfer the burden to the citizens. I believe that we need to look at the quoted figure of maybe 100 million litres that people claim we’re consuming.
“Is it real? I mean is it either under-recoveries of subsidy? Is it really 100 million litres per day? How on earth are we consuming that? We need to look at this critically and see how we can find the truth.
“I am not convinced that within the boundaries of Nigeria we are consuming 100 million litres, probably neighbouring countries may be benefiting from this. Can’t we do something about it? It is a failure on us if we are not able to control it.”
What you should know
There have been calls from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as some experts for the removal of fuel subsidy which has become a major drain on the country’s resources.
The Managing Director of Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr Isiyaku Abdullahi, had in October last year warned that the annual subsidy on petrol could rise to N3 trillion if the current market realities persist, with sharp increase in global oil prices.
Recall that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had threatened to embark on strike and nationwide protest if the federal government goes ahead with its plans to remove petrol subsidy as it is ill-advised and will increase the sufferings of Nigerians.