Ensure subsidy removal doesn’t fuel corruption, IPAC tells Tinubu
Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has said it is not the right time for the federal government to remove fuel subsidy, noting that many Nigerians are feeling the pains of the decision.
The organisation, however, advised President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of urgency set up a forensic enquiry on the subsidy regime in a view to unravel the secrecy and obvious perception of large-scale corruption in the sector.
Addressing journalists in Abuja IPAC national chairman, Yabagi Sani, said the government should have put enough palliative in place to ensure that Nigerians do not feel the pain associated with the increase in fuel price increase.
He argued that subsidy removal would rather have been done at a more suitable time in view of the fact of the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) 2022 and Appropriation Act 2023, the extant laws, as well as the president’s pronouncement in his inaugural speech, was clear that he will govern by the rule of law.
He said: “It is also not surprising that Nigerians following the adjustment continued to react to the development, with different opinions for and against the subsidy removal. A good number of Nigerians have argued that whereas the subsidy removal is necessary for the nation’s economic growth, the timing and manner of the adjustment is at variance with the expectations of the Nigerian masses in view of the current living condition of the people vis-à-vis the already tense socio-political environment.
“For us at the IPAC, the issue of subsidy removal though at the heart of the economic development of Nigeria and a necessary evil, and of course Mr. President must have been overwhelmed by the urgency of the need to address the dire economic situation of the country to have expressed his desire.
“However, in our candid opinion, it would rather have been done at a more suitable time in view of the fact of the PIA 2022 and appropriation Act 2023, the extant laws, as well as Mr President’s pronouncement in his inaugural speech was clear that he will govern by the rule of law.
“There is no doubt that Economics believes in a market economy, in which production and prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses.
“However, this scenario exposes the local economy to the dictates of global oil price shocks, hence, subsidy regime over the years became a strategy to cushion the effect on the citizens.
Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics data that about 63 per cent of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multi-dimensionally poor, the IPAC national chairman lamented that many States are struggling to pay the N30,000 minimum wage of workers.
According to a recent KPMG report, “Nigeria’s unemployment rate is expected to rise to 41% in 2023”. The report also revealed in part that there are expectations for GDP to continue to grow at a relatively slow pace of 3% in 2023 owing to the slowdown in economic activity that typically characterizes periods of political transition in Nigeria. In this scenario, the removal of subsidy in a product as central as petrol, will no doubt, increase the cost of goods and services and further worsen the living conditions of Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged NNPC, CBN, Marketers and the players in the value chain of the subsidy era to be properly audited.
“Government should also address the issue of oil theft, metering of the sector infrastructure while pursuing fiscal policy measures to m manage the economic interventions. Going forward, the NNPC and all relevant agencies should be made to operate transparently and accountable in its dealings. In addition, the federal government as a matter of priority should strengthen the law enforcement agencies, particularly the anti-graft agencies to effectively enforce their mandates. These interventions will reinforce the confidence of Nigerians that subsidy removal will not be more fuel for corruption”, Sani added.