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Subsidy Removal: “I was demonised” for this – Atiku

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A former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar commended the Federal Government for ending the regime on subsidy for imported petroleum products, ruing the opportunity the government had to implement the policy while the economy was stronger.

In a series of tweets on Friday June 5, 2020, Atiku said it was the same policy for which he was demonised during the 2019 presidential election.

“FG finally withdraws from the fuel subsidy and price-fixing bazaar that had been rife with corruption and stalling investments. This is something patriots have been calling for and for which I was demonised.

“The stoppage of subsidy and price-fixing is a right move, although it should have come earlier when the economy was stronger.” Atiku said.

The former presidential candidate of Nigeria’s leading opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urged government at state and federal levels to improve on the policy by removing other impediments and rolling out incentives to boost investments in the sector.

“FG and state governments should proceed to remove other impediments and roll out incentives to spur investments in the sector, especially the numerous refineries that had been licensed but are yet to be built.  Then ensure the quality of fuel meets set standards.” Atiku added.

In his policy document which was released in the build up to the February 23, 2019 elections, under the heading “Promoting Public Private Partnerships” Atiku had said if elected president, his policy for the oil sector would include to “privatize state owned enterprises including all four government-owned refineries and liberalize the downstream sector of the petroleum industry”.

At the time, Atiku had said “I swear, even if they’re going to kill me, I will privatise NNPC”.

His adversaries quickly jumped on the statement saying Atiku had planned to sell the state owned company and refineries to his cronies.

Bismark Rewane, the Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company in Lagos had queried Atiku’s plan saying “I agree that it should be privatised, but selling to whom?”, a statement the All Progressives Congress echoed throughout the campaigns.

Nigeria announced the removal of a price cap for the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on June 4, 2020, officially ending the subsidy regime on petrol.

In the document signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Abdulkadir Saidu, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) said going forward it would continue to monitor trends in the crude oil market and advise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and oil marketers on the monthly guiding price for the commodity.

“The price cap per liter in respect of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is removed from the commencement of these Regulations. From the commencement of these Regulations, a market-based pricing regime for Premium Motor Saint (PMS) shall take effect.” the PPPRA said.

Subsidy on petroleum products has long been a dicey topic in Nigerian political and business discourse.

Before winning the presidential elections on his fourth attempt, President Muhammadu Buhari had been very critical of previous administrations on the issue of fuel subsidy.

In 2011, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari made the famous statement “who is subsidizing who?”in reference to the subsidy regime. The question went on to become one of the slogans chanted at the #OccupyNigeria protests in 2012 which brought the Jonathan government to its knees at it attempted to partially remove subsidy on petrol.

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