The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has hinted on the need for the federal government to reconsider its stance on the issue of fuel subsidy and perhaps stop the payment of subsidies so as to permanently curb the problem of products shortages.
He made the remarks at the annual Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja today, he implored Nigerians not to allow politics as usual to decide the 2019 election season. His speech was read by a former commissioner for finance in Lagos State, Olawale Edun.
“As a progressive, I believe we must transform the nation by embarking on deep and impactful reforms, by creating more jobs, providing social policy initiatives and building an infrastructure befitting a leading nation. Social services must become a reality close at hand and not a vague dream lying in the distance,” Tinubu said in a speech that was laced with feelings of disappointment at the performance of the federal government, past and present.
In relation to the issue of subsidies, he said that “we must reform the current fuel subsidy regime.”
“At this stage it causes more problems than it cures. Bottlenecks of long fuel queues, erratic supply, resultant economic dislocations for consumers from lack of fuel and the corrupt practices of trade insiders undermine the good intentions upon which the subsidy is based, he said.
“Currently, the subsidy does not benefit the average person. It sweetly profits the elites who manipulate the programme to their own advantage. We need to allow market forces to more directly determine price. We need to open the now closed market to more suppliers. In this way, we may better harmonise supply and demand, where they do the most sustainable economic good.”
Nigeria has suffered epileptic petroleum products supply blamed on a subsidy regime that has led to corruption, and mismanagement. In January 2012, the former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration made a decision to end fuel subsidy. In response, a movement known as #OccupyNigeria was formed and thousands of Nigerians took to the streets of major cities in Nigeria including Lagos and Abuja to protest the government’s decision.
The #OccupyNigeria rally attracted popular opposition politicians, human rights activists, pastors and celebrities who stood up to the government until the decision to remove subsidies was stepped down.
In recent times changes in the prices of petroleum products has put pressure on the Nigerian government which has had to make the choice of investing in infrastructure or continuing to fund subsidies on refined petroleum products.