Tinubu Government Reserves Right To Pay Fuel Subsidy To Cushion Hardship Of Nigerians — Presidential Aide Admits

The Nigerian government has stated that it reserves the right to pay fuel subsidy intermittently to cushion hardship in the country.

 

The Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Mrs. Olu Veŕheijen, made this known while briefing journalists in Abuja on Friday while responding to questions about whether the government had returned the fuel subsidy according to the IMF claim.

 

She explained that the government was doing all in its power to maintain the price of fuel to cushion the impact on the citizens, adding that governments across the world intervene at difficult times to address economic hardship by way of subsidy.

 

She said; “The subsidy was removed on May 29. However, the government has the prerogative to maintain price stability to address social unrest. They reserve the right to intervene.

 

“If the government feels that it cannot continue to allow prices to fluctuate due to high inflation and exchange rates, the government reserves the right to intervene intermittently and that, does not negate the fact that subsidy has been removed.”

 

Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, had asked President Bola Tinubu’s administration to be transparent and inform Nigerians if fuel subsidy has been restored or not.

 

During his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu declared an end to the subsidy regime, which immediately pushed up the prices of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol.

 

But there have been recent claims that the government has quietly returned fuel subsidy to keep its prices at around N600 per litre.

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The Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) had asked President Bola Tinubu’s administration to review the removal of fuel subsidy in the interest of the people.

 

Human rights lawyer and the Chair of ASCAB, Femi Falana (SAN), in a statement on Sunday, had said, “It would be recalled that after the Muhammadu Buhari administration announced that it had removed subsidy on petrol, it turned round to spend N11 trillion on the so called “under recovery” within a period of 8 years.

 

“Mr. Dickerman who made the disclosure while participating in a panel discussion disclosed that a significant subsidy is still in place, adding that this has contributed to the affordable price of the product and potentially fueling smuggling activities to neighbouring countries.

 

“Before the disclosure, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the federal government to completely phase out petrol and electricity subsidies in the country. The IMF made the recommendation while advising Nigeria on pathways to restoring macroeconomic stability in its ‘Post Financing Assessment (PFA)’ report.

 

“On its own part, the World Bank has alleged partial return of fuel subsidy in a report titled, ‘Turning The Corner (From Reforms and Renewed Hope to Results)” which was presented in Abuja last December. In justifying its claim then, the World Bank said that based on the official exchange rate then, the petrol should sell for around N750 per litre and not the N650 currently being paid by Nigerians.

 

“Curiously, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has not deemed it fit to deny the serious allegation that fuel subsidy has been restored. Since there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the 2023 and 2024 Appropriation Acts the federal government should, without any further delay, confirm or deny the serious allegation and end the opacity surrounding the importation of fuel from foreign countries.”

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