The planned removal of petroleum subsidies by President Muhammadu Buhari vindicates former president Goodluck Jonathan whose efforts to remove them ahead of 2015 general elections were politicised by the Buhari-led opposition.
Economist Prof Solomon Okoye disclosed this on Friday in an interview with Adadainfo in Awka.
Okoye, a developmental consultant, said the only way to salvage Nigeria’s petroleum sector was the removal of petroleum subsidies, but regretted how Jonathan’s efforts towards that were truncated by Buhari in his quest to clinch at all costs.
He said, “The fraud in petroleum subsidies is enormous. Those that benefit from it won’t want the removal. But without it, Nigeria’s economy will continue to go down.”
He described Buhari’s moves to remove the subsidies in June next year as a ‘proof that he has failed as the helmsman of the nation’s petroleum sector’.
“Buhari should take this singular blame,” he said. “He campaigned against it during the Jonathan era. He and Bola Tinubu among other opposition members used it as a ploy to make Nigerians believe that Jonathan wanted to impose burden on the citizenry.
“Buhari was elected on the pretext that the nation’s refineries would be made functional as soon as he assumed office. He has failed woefully even after imposing himself as the petroleum minister.
“Then, to worsen it all, he wants to remove the subsidy when his tenure would elapse. Nigeria is already tense, and any more imposition of suffering can trigger reactions similar to #Endsars.”
Recall that minister of finance Zainab Ahmed, Thursday, said President Muhammadu Buhari has set June 2023 as the date for the removal of fuel subsidy.
According to her, Buhari’s administration would be spending N6.4 trillion annually if it continues to pay fuel subsidies.
She said, “If the nation holds on to fuel subsidy as it is designed now, we will be incurring from January to December a subsidy cost of N6.4 trillion.
“But we suggested to the Federal Executive Council, and the council approved that. We could look at the option of exiting the subsidy (regime) half year. If we did that, then the cost would be N3.35 trillion, which is half of the N6.7 trillion.
“That is the option that was conveyed by His Excellency, the President, to the National Assembly. But Let me also say that even though this is a reduced option, it would mean that we are borrowing more than we would have borrowed if we did not have fuel subsidies.
“In 2022, we are carrying the cost of subsidy throughout the whole year.”
She further stated that the FG had earmarked N3.35 trillion to service subsidies in 2023 until June when it would be removed.