THE candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25, 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, has challenged the Federal Government to give Nigerians details of how funds realised from the removal of petrol subsidy are being spent.
Obi, who was a guest at an online Twitter space tagged, ‘Peter Obi Live on Parallel Facts’ in the late evening of Saturday, July 29, considered subsidy removal as an economic decision that must be thought through before the government embarked on it.
The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration had removed the subsidy on the cost of petrol to tackle, among other things, corruption in the system and save money for the government. But Obi was unconvinced, saying the appropriation of gains from the removal itself was corruption-ridden.
He said, “Nigerians need to see the numbers and figures from the savings made from subsidy. Petrol subsidy in Nigeria is more like a criminal set-up. You cannot tell people to make sacrifices when they’re seeing you live a life of a rock star, and buying brand new jeeps from all over the world at very expensive prices.”
Obi, telling Nigerians he would have done things differently in subsidy removal, said, “It has to be structured in phases, so that the government knows the actual subsidy component it is dealing with.”
He maintained there remained so much corruption in the oil sector, and the Federal government needed to know each component of oil subsidy it was dealing with.
“For example when you remove all these opaque components, what you would be paying could even be 40 per cent or less. It is when you know the component of what you’re removing that you can take a wholistic and proper action.
“We have seen a former governor (Isah Yuguda) say that someone is so tired of making money from subsidy corruption that he had made enough. I don’t think I have ever seen someone who said he had made enough money.
“For someone to say that he had made enough money through fraud subsidy payment, that would give you a sense of the kind of corruption we are dealing with,” Obi said.
He expressed concerns about the poor state of the nation’s refineries, adding that modular refineries were not getting supply of crude oil.
On the agonies Nigerians are experiencing in the aftermath of the fuel subsidy removal, he said, “There is a number of things that we need to do to help in managing the situation and lessen the burden of the policies on the people. We also need to discuss with stakeholders to make it better.”
Obi likened the challenge in the subsidy removal to what he faced when he, as governor in Anambra State, he returned schools to their original owners He said it was a decision that came with lots of difficulties, but was one he carefully considered before the decision.
“People were on strike for months because of that decision, but we made sure that we went through the process carefully to mitigate the problems. There were so many things we put in place, like sustaining teachers’ salaries payment and doing capital projects, but the original owners would take care of the administration and management of the schools better.
“At the time I was Governor, no state across the country could compare their secondary schools with ours, because we thought it through properly. Go to those schools in Anambra today and see for yourself,” he said.
The ICIR had reported how Nigerians were experiencing difficulties as a result of government’s twin decision on PMS subsidy removal and foreign exchange rates unification.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.