Despite describing it as a fraud, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to remove fuel subsidy payments as he promised prior to the 2015 general election.
About eight years down Buhari’s tenure, which will end in May, the fuel subsidy payments persist and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed has said the payments will gulp N3.36 trillion in the first six months of this year.
However, Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity explained that the President failed to remove fuel subsidy payments due to economic and social factors.
“Each time there is an effort to fight the fraud in the subsidy regime, you have to contend with labour, you have to contend with the people. The government needed to weigh its options because of the social consequences,” Adesina said on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Wednesday.
Recall that during his campaign ahead of the 2015 presidential election, Buhari had questioned the justification behind retaining fuel subsidy and described it as a fraud.
However, about eight years after, the Buhari administration announced recently that subsidy removal will come into effect in June 2023 after he must have completed his two terms in office.
Adesina blamed his principal’s inability to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, on economic and social factors.
“In the beginning, his (Buhari’s) position was: what was subsidy really? But over the years it became evident that the country was bleeding, the economy was bleeding, there was a lot of haemorrhage which needed to be stopped and the time came and that time is now,” Adesina said.
The presidential aide also said that petrol subsidy had stayed longer than required. He added that almost every Nigerian has now come to the realisation that it must come to a stop.
Meanwhile, speaking during a public presentation and breakdown of the 2023 Appropriation Act in Abuja, the Minister of Finance confirmed that payment of fuel subsidy will stop by the end of June 2023.
She noted that in the 2023 fiscal period, the government made provisions of N3.36 trillion naira for fuel subsidy payment to cover the first six months of 2023.
This, according to her, is in line with the 18-month extension announced early 2022.