Garba Shehu, former media aide to ex-president Muhammadu Buhari, has explained why his boss did not remove fuel subsidy, instead passed the assignment to incumbent president Bola Tinubu.
Shehu in a tweet said the All Progressives Congress would have lost heavily in the last polls if the subsidy had been removed. He also said President Tinubu had done well in implementing the policy.
According to him, “We must be politically honest with ourselves. The Buhari administration in its last days could not have gone the whole way because the APC had an election to win. And that would have been the case with any political party that was seeking election for another term with a new principal at its head.
“Poll after polls showed that the party would have been thrown out of office if the decision as envisaged by the new Petroleum Industry Act was made. With the election now behind us, a capable leader as we now have in place is best positioned to move forward.
“We have nothing but confidence that the new administration will carry the nation and all its constituents into a stable future in the aftermath of these major economic and financial decisions. As they say, there are times when you have to lose in order to win.”
He maintained that the question of not removing the subsidy should not be directed to Buhari, but ‘instead APC that is best suited to speak’.
He added, “In terms of the timings of the decisions to remove fuel subsidy and unify the currency, the Tinubu/Shettima administration has done overwhelmingly well. Even more importantly, they have been most dexterous in managing the aftermath of the decisions by successfully avoiding any crisis.”
He wished the new administration well, urging ‘fellow countrymen [to] continue to support the new leadership in these very laudable decisions and, in particular, for the Labour leadership and civil society to work with them to ensure that the palliative efforts as promised are successfully implemented’.
He however said the Buhari administration had initiated the removal since 2015. In his words, “It’s important to remind ourselves – and all those who have conveniently forgotten – that the Buhari administration had been on this pathway from the very beginning in 2015.
“Removing subsidies for the Naira and PMS was cued and put on hold. Look for example in the Petroleum Industry Act. The important decision was kept for a better time.
“It could not have come at a time when tensions were high in the country and no responsible leader would have added fuel to the fire.
“In the view of many-including those in the security circles- only a new administration with a goodwill that fills a warehouse can attempt this, and here now comes in the wit and grit of the Tinubu government.”
Recall that Tinubu had on his inaugural speech announced that fuel subsidy was not in the budget, forcing the price of the essential commodity to rise from about N230 to N550 instantly. The decision further imposed hardship on Nigerians.