President Muhammadu Buhari removed subsidy on petrol and electricity to “stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money” and “eliminate corruption associated with subsidies,” his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
The media reported the removal of the subsidy which has led to the increase in petrol and electricity prices across Nigeria. While retail price of petrol increased by about 10 per cent to about N160 per litre, the average unit cost of electricity increased by almost 100 per cent to about N62 per kilowatt hour.
Many Nigerians including the Nigeria Labour Congress and the main opposition party, PDP, have condemned the price increases amidst the impact of the economic effect of COVID-19.
The ruling party, APC, has, however, defended the increases saying the subsidy removal was necessary.
In his statement on Sunday, Mr Shehu said history will be kind to Mr Buhari for removing the subsidy on the essential items.
He also defended the removal of the subsidy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good,” he wrote.
Read Mr Shehu’s full statement below.
HISTORY WILL BE KINDER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI THAN HIS CRITICS ARE PREPARED TO BE
The All Progressives Congress, APC came to power in 2015 defeating an incumbent administration amidst very high expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Five years on, the administration has worked hard to meet many expectations, but still, there are certain tough decisions which had to be taken to put back the country on the path of sustainable development.
To stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others, the administration took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices.
Subsidy removal in these sectors had long been foreseen by successive administrations as game changers in search of solutions to move forward with the nation’s development. These are reforms that are necessary and overdue. Blueprint upon blueprint, timeline upon timeline had come and gone but courage to take bold decisions was not there.
Over the last few days, one claim acquiring a potent resonance with the online community, sections of the Labour movement and the opposition is that the actions are ill-timed and ill-advised.
There is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good.
As President, Muhammadu Buhari takes these difficult decisions, both popular and unpopular and as a leader because he is demonstrating the right courage to take such decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.
History will be kind to President Buhari because in addition to his amazing ability to command votes, he will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating the evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.
In any democracy, the most important certificate in governance is acceptance by the people and, with the support of ordinary Nigerians, President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as these ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups.
In these challenging times, the president is pushing development goals not politics and history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the Opposition.
Senior Special Assistant to the President