One week after President Bola Tinubu announced the elimination of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit, better known as petrol, Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the February 25 election, broke his silence on the widely criticised action on Tuesday.
He stated that rather than a “forceful removal,” he would have implemented “various relieving policies” to mitigate the impact of subsidy removal.
Obi, a former Anambra State governor, spoke with judicial correspondents at the Court of Appeal, venue of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Tuesday.
“I’ve actually been in support of the removal of subsidies right from the President Goodluck Jonathan era, when I was a member of the Economic Management team,” he tweeted.
“If you have followed me very well right from the time I was a member of Jonathan’s economic management team, I consistently maintained that subsidy should be removed because I see it as organized crime.
“People were just stealing the resources of the country and I showed it empirically in my statistical analysis that we were not consuming the amount of fuel they claimed we consumed.”
Obi gave a “tooth pain” removal analogy saying, “If you approach a dentist to remove a painful tooth, he will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth so you do not feel pain.
“It’s not the same thing as pulling the tooth forcefully, the pain you feel will be different. For me, I will go with the approach of the dentist, while supporting the removal of the tooth because I wouldn’t want to go through the pain of a forceful removal.”
“Recall that even when Jonathan’s government wanted to remove it they came up with various relieving policies like Sure-P and others. If you read my manifesto you will see clearly how I planned to remove subsidies. I will govern with the people and show them statistically and empirically what we are going to save, and what we are going to do using the savings to better the suffering masses.
“The problem in Nigeria is that often government tell the masses to suffer and sacrifice, for a better future; but in future things gets worse,” he added.
Like Obi, Like Atiku
Obi’s stance followed the position of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the last election, Atiku Abubakar who also faulted the manner in which fuel subsidy was removed by Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor.
The President during his inaugural speech on May 29 at the Eagle Square in Abuja had announced the removal of subsidy payment on petrol. The President said that the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari did not make provisions for subsidy in the 2023 budget beyond June.
From N184/Litre To Over N500
Many Nigerians had expected that the new price regime would come into effect by July 1 but almost immediately after the presidential pronouncement, queues resurfaced at filling stations across the country even as retail outlets hoard the product and increase prices.
Already, a litre of petrol is being sold at over N500 across the country following NNPC price adjustment and the presidential pronouncement on subsidy removal.
Fuel queues have since surged for the vital commodity, compounding the traffic situation in parts of the country, even as transportation cost skyrocket to more than 100% increment.
The Organised Labour had resolved to embark on a nationwide strike beginning Wednesday but was restrained by a court order of Monday, June 5, 2023. The Organised Labour subsequently shelved its planned strike after a meeting with the Federal Government late Monday.