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Where’s the transparency in paying over N1tn in fuel subsidy, Atiku queries Buhari

FORMER Vice President Atiku Abubakar has taken another jibe at the Muhammadu Buhari presidency accusing it of lack of transparency as well as shielding corrupt individuals.

Atiku’s recent criticisms came in reaction to comments by Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, who, in a statement on Wednesday, described Buhari as uncompromising on issues of accountability, probity and transparency.

“President Buhari is uncompromising in the quest to restore probity and accountability to public office. He is uncompromising in cleaning the rot Nigeria was consigned into pre-2015, thus the war against corruption is being fought without fear or favour,” Adesina had stated.

But Atiku, writing through his media aide, Paul Ibe, listed a number of instances where, according to him, Buhari had demonstrated a lack of transparency and compromise. These include the payment of over N1 trillion naira in fuel subsidies, even when the presidency claimed it had stopped payment of subsidies; the suspicious reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former pension boss who had fled the country after he was accused of corruption; Buhari’s refusal to act on the allegation of forgery against his Finance Minister, and so on.

“If President Buhari is “uncompromising in cleaning the rot Nigeria was consigned into pre-2015” then how come the latest Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International reveals that Nigeria is more corrupt today than she was in 2015, having moved 12 steps backwards in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, moving from 136 in 2014 under the PDP to 148 today?” Atiku queried.

“Again, we ask how uncompromising a President can be when he allows a minister accused of forgery to remain at her job?

“The Buhari administration pays a whopping ₦1.4 trillion on subsidy per annum according to the minister of state for petroleum. This amount is almost twice what the Jonathan administration paid and yet President Buhari accused that administration of scamming the nation. Where is the transparency in that?

The payment of petroleum subsidies has been one of the most controversial actions of the federal government over the years; many Nigerians believe the government used the idea to carry out corrupt practices.

But the Buhari administration announced, in May 2016, that it was deregulating the petroleum downstream sector, which also meant the scrapping of subsidy payments. Consequently, the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, was raised N86 to N145 per litre.

Osinbajo, at the time, explained to Nigerians that it was the best decision for the country, going forward.

“Amongst others, the downstream sector has been deregulated with the elimination of petroleum subsidy. This policy has removed from government, a burden of not less than N15.4 billion monthly,” Osibanjo said at an event in December 2016.

However, in April this year, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who was a former Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said Nigeria pays about N1.4 trillion in what he called “under recovery” payments; this is just another term for subsidy.

“Nigeria presently incurs over N1.4 trillion till date as under-recovery or losses on the importation and sale of petrol. It is time for Nigeria to harness alternative fuel sources like (LPG) as under-recovery from the importation and sale of petrol at the government-regulated price of N145 per litre has hit N1.4 trillion,” Kachikwu wrote.

Also, the Buhari administration has continued to maintain silence over the allegation of forgery against Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance.

Adeosun is alleged to have fraudulently acquired a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate, having failed to participate in the mandatory one-year national service.

It has been 61 days since the allegation was made against Adeosun by Premium Times, but the president has refused to act.

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