Garba Shehu, a former spokesperson to ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, has disclosed that the fuel subsidy was not removed to enable the current President, Bola Tinubu, to win the election in February 2023.
Shehu said if Buhari had removed the fuel subsidy, Tinubu would have lost the election, as tension was already in the air against the All Progressive Congress (APC).
He also noted that the naira wasn’t devalued for the same reasons, “Removing subsidies for the Naira and PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) was cued and put on hold.
“Look for example in the Petroleum Industry Act. The important decision was kept for a better time,” Shehu said in a statement released on Monday.
“It could not have come at a time when tensions were high in the country and no responsible leader would have added fuel to the fire,” the statement reads further.
Recall that tension has heightened as the election drew near after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) implemented the botched naira redesign policy.
Shehu said “because the APC (All Progressives Congress) had an election to win,” Buhari couldn’t have implemented earth-shaking reforms.
While defending Buhari’s decision not to remove the fuel subsidy and implement other policies, he said: “For those with short memories, many of those subsides were all in place when President Buhari was elected to office in 2015: all those in place were gone by May 2023 – including the annual fertilizer subsidy that weighed 60-100 billion Naira (that’s trillion naira in about 10 years – yes you read that right) heavy on the federal budget each year.
“So no, Buhari didn’t remove the petrol subsidy – but in vitally important stages, he removed every other budget-busting, egregious, economic-growth-crushing subsidy along the way,” Shehu stated.
However, with the elections gone, Tinubu has made the right decision by removing the subsidies and has been “most dexterous in managing the aftermath of the decisions by successfully avoiding any crisis”.
Shehu said only a president with “goodwill that fills a warehouse can attempt” the decisions that Tinubu has taken since he was elected President.