By John Ikani
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, has distanced President Muhammadu Buhari from speculations surrounding the removal of fuel subsidy.
Sylvia who spoke when he appeared on Channels Television’s Newsnight programme said President Buhari is against removing subsidy on fuel because of the effect it would have on citizens.
According to him, the Federal Government planned to complete consultations before coming out with a clear policy direction on fuel subsidy removal.
There has been confusion over the current administration’s stance on fuel subsidy with government officials giving contradictory statements.
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had in November last year hinted that Nigeria would effect the complete removal of fuel subsidy in June 2022 and replace them with a N5000-a-month transportation grant to the poorest Nigerians.
She had said: “In our 2022 budget, we only factored in subsidy for the first half of the year; the second half of the year, we are looking at complete deregulation of the sector, saving foreign exchange and potentially earning more from the oil and gas industry.”
Amid mixed reactions over the issue, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, last Tuesday said President Buhari never directed the removal of fuel subsidy.
What the petroleum minister is saying
Buttressing Lawan’s point, the minister said “I will tell you categorically that at this moment, the complete removal of subsidy is not on our plate at all,” said Sylva.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in support of removing subsidy at this time,” he added.
Sylva explained that part of the reason why the Federal Government is not thinking about removing fuel subsidy is because of the impact it will have on Nigerians.
He said, “Of course, we all know that it is a desirable policy direction. Of course, we know that it will have some impacts on the people and that is why we are trying to work out some of those things.
“Until those details are worked out properly with (the organised) labour, and with all the stakeholders in the sector, we will not remove the subsidy. At this moment, it is not on our plate, I can tell you that.
“This is something that needs to be worked out between the Federal Government and the states because this is a federation issue. We are working with the governors to see how we can continue with this policy direction of subsidising fuel for the foreseeable future.”