Confusion Trails Fuel Subsidy Removal As NASS, Buhari’s Cabinet Differ On Policy

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There appears to be confusion over the proposed plans by the Federal Government to exit fuel subsidy by 2022.

While the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari has not directed any of his officials to remove fuel subsidy on account of the prevailing economic hardship, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Wednesday differed with the latter’s position, saying he was not sure if the presidency had directed otherwise.

Mohammed who is the spokesperson of the federal government, however, promised to initiate a fact-finding mission to determine the true position of the government on the removal of petroleum subsidy.

He said this while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

His reaction was in response to a question that he should provide clarity on the alleged plans to remove subsidy since the 2022 budget has no subsidy provision beyond June 2022.

Mohammed said he would need to consult with the relevant government agencies to determine the exact position of the subsidy removal issue.

“As for the removal of fuel subsidy, I think you will give me time to consult with relevant departments and ministries and I will get back to you,” he said.

It will be recalled the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, explaining in October last year, said the federal government only made provision for fuel subsidy for the first six months of 2022 because it was seriously considering complete deregulation of the sector.

“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,” she had said.

But the Senate President who met with Buhari on Tuesday confided in reporters that the President had not directed anyone in his administration to implement the removal of petroleum subsidy.

The Senate President had stated: “Well, it will be of interest to Nigerians to hear what I came to discuss with Mr. President among several other things.

“Many of us are very concerned with the recent agitations, protests and many citizens were so concerned, our constituents across the country are very concerned that the federal government will remove the petroleum subsidy. And for us, as parliamentarians, as legislators representing the people of Nigeria, this must be of interest to us”.

Beyond these controversies, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Mele Kyari had said the government was indeed overburdened with providing subsidies for daily fuel consumption of the citizens.

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