The Presidency has admitted that it was a tough decision for President Muhammadu Buhari to remove subsidy on petrol but said it was in the overall interest of the country.
In a reaction to last week’s increase in the pump price of petrol and the hike in electricity tariff by Power Distribution Companies (DisCos), it called for “support and understanding of opposition parties, the Labour movement and civil society groups.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that 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,” Shehu said.
According to him, 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,” he said.
Shehu said that as President 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. He said: “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.”
He added that “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.”