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Former Presidential Aide Explains Challenges of Fuel Subsidy Removal in Nigeria

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in a recent statement, Garba Shehu, the former Senior Special Assistant on Media to former President Muhammadu Buhari, shed light on the reasons why the previous administration could not eliminate fuel subsidy in Nigeria. Shehu argued that only a new administration with substantial support could attempt such a move, citing President Bola Tinubu as the only one currently capable of doing so.

Addressing the issue via his verified Twitter handle, Shehu emphasized that the Buhari administration, in its final days, was unable to abolish the controversial policy due to the upcoming election and the need for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to maintain power. He explained that implementing the new Petroleum Industry Act, which would have included subsidy removal, could have jeopardized the party’s chances of staying in office.

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While acknowledging the public’s curiosity about the removal of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the dual rates of the Naira, Shehu suggested that it is the responsibility of the APC to provide a comprehensive response. However, in the absence of such a statement from the party, he felt compelled to offer some insights.

Shehu highlighted that the decision to remove subsidies should not rest solely on the President’s shoulders. He emphasized that the timing of such decisions is crucial and should consider the prevailing circumstances in the country. Shehu commended the current Tinubu/Shettima administration for their adept management of subsidy removal and currency unification, which minimized potential crises.

Regarding the removal of subsidies, Shehu stated, “The decision to remove subsidies, as in our case—and we believe in all situations—was not for the President to take all by himself.” He explained that the removal of subsidies for the Naira and PMS had been postponed, citing the Petroleum Industry Act as an example of a significant decision that was deferred for a more opportune time.

Shehu stressed that the decision to remove subsidies could not have been made during a period of high tension in the country. He acknowledged that only a new administration with overwhelming public support could undertake such a task, highlighting the competence and determination of the current Tinubu government.

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In conclusion, Shehu acknowledged the political realities that influenced the Buhari administration’s actions. He stated, “The Buhari administration in its last days could not have gone the whole way because the APC had an election to win.” Shehu emphasized that any political party seeking re-election with a new leader would have faced similar constraints.

Shehu’s remarks shed light on the challenges faced by the previous administration in removing fuel subsidies in Nigeria. The statement provides valuable insights into the complexities of subsidy removal and the political considerations that underpin such decisions.

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By addressing these issues, Shehu’s statement contributes to a better understanding of the difficulties faced by successive administrations in Nigeria and the importance of timing and political will in implementing significant economic reforms.

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