Abdulsalami, workers warn FG as NEC decides subsidy removal June

By AdvocateNews on 21/01/2022

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The National Economic Council has said it will take a decision on petroleum subsidy removal in June when the six-month period for subsidy payment in the 2022 budget elapses. 

NEC comprising Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and state governors among others, stated this at its first meeting for the year at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.

The council stated this as a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abukakar (retd.), and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities strongly warned the Federal Government against removing the subsidy, saying it would worsen poverty in the country.

The warning came amid conflicting reports on whether the Federal Government would fully deregulate the downstream sector by removing fuel subsidy in February or not.

Although the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, indicated in December last year that the government would remove fuel subsidy by early this year, Senate President Lawan Ahmed said this week that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, had yet to give any approval regarding that.

However, NEC at its meeting presided over by Osinbajo, affirmed that since the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited is now a limited liability company, it must be run differently.

The Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, made the NEC position known to State House correspondents while fielding questions on the outcome of the meeting.

The governor, who was accompanied by his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, said it was understandable that provision for subsidy payment was made for only six months in the 2022 budget.

According to him, any decision to remove subsidy will be taken after the budget provision runs its course until June 2022.

Sule noted that even though NEC had been deliberating on the matter, it had yet to take a position on it.

The Nasarawa governor said, “I think in addition to that, what you have to understand is that, we (NEC), didn’t make any presentations on this because there has not been a decision. But in reality, all of us Nigerians know that there is now the Petroleum Industry Act. And the NNPC has now become a limited liability company, as you know. So, the NNPC will run differently.

“So, if the Minister of Finance, you know, provides (subsidy) for six months, you can understand part of the reason for the provision for six months, before the NNPC entirely takes off; and at that moment, that is when decisions will be made.

“But I want to correct this impression; it is not the governors who are making recommendations; It is a NEC committee which comprises all the other people that are looking at this. And no decision has been made, and probably by the time a decision will be made, the Petroleum Industry Act would have fully taken charge, and it will not require any recommendation from anybody.”

On his part, Obaseki noted that Premium Motor Spirit, which sells for N162-165 per litre in Nigeria, was sold a 100 per cent higher in other countries.

He said the Federal Government was spending about N2tn on petroleum subsidies, an amount, he said, could have been used for other purposes.

As a result, he said NEC queried why such an arrangement should be allowed to continue.

Meanwhile, the leadership of SSANU on Thursday warned the Federal Government against increment in pump price of petrol.

Speaking in Ile-Ife at the 41st SSANU Regular National Executive Council meeting held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the National President of the association, Haruna Ibrahim, said union leaders would not fold hands, while ordinary Nigerians continue to experience hardship.

Posted 21/01/2022 08:28:45 AM

 

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