The Presidency has said that despite the recent remarks of President Goodluck Jonathan concerning the retaining of fuel subsidy, there were no plans to remove it.
This came from presidential spokesperson, Dr Doyin Okupe, who said that the President, being mindful of the reactions and plight of Nigerians, had made sure that sufficient allocation for fuel subsidy was made in the 2013 budget.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on March 20, at the Nigeria Economic Summit 2013 held in Lagos, unveiled a platform of economic development for the country predicated on full removal of fuel subsidy, leading to speculations that his administration was going to make a policy change regarding the retaining of fuel subsidies.
President Jonathan’s remark had generated a furore with attendant lamentations from the Nigerian public who viewed the move as anti-people and a plot to hike pump price of petroleum products with workers’ umbrella bodies – the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – scheduling a protest for April 10 based on a rumour that the subsidies would be fully withdrawn on April 1.
In a statement, Dr Okupe said that the comment by the President on fuel subsidy was “was a frank, intellectual and well-articulated contribution by the President to the discussion on the Nigerian Economy at the said Summit, and it was from a honest and sincere leadership perspective”.
The statement read: “Contrary to speculations in the media and assumption by certain groups within the polity, the Presidency has stated that the removal of oil subsidy is not on the table of the transformation agenda of the President.
“A statement made by President Jonathan at the recent Economic Summit held in Lagos was a frank, intellectual and well-articulated contribution by the President to the discussion on the Nigerian economy and not an indication that government was planning to remove subsidy from petroleum products.
“The President and this administration are not insensitive to the plight of the Nigerian masses and will continue to pursue and execute policies and programmes that are in the overall interest of majority of Nigerians and that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of our teeming population.
“While noting that Nigeria spends about N1 trillion, an equivalent of about 20 per cent of the national budget on fuel subsidy, government remains committed to the welfare of the common man who unfortunately does not benefit optimally from the subsidy regime.
“Finally, for the avoidance of doubt and at the risk of being repetitive, this administration is not considering the issue of removal of fuel subsidy in the nearest future and will continue to dialogue with all stakeholders with a view to reaching sustainable consensus on all issues involved in the proper management of the nation’s oil and gas industry.”