The Federal Government has not removed petrol subsidy or planning to remove it soon as being speculated in some quarters, according to Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
He said arising from his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari some hours ago, no official or agency has been directed to implement the removal of petrol subsidy.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting, Lawan said: “Well, it will be of interest to Nigerians to hear what I have come 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.
“We have just finished our recess, we had gone home to our constituencies and senatorial districts and we felt the pulse of our people. I found it necessary to visit Mr. President as the leader of our government and our leader in the country to discuss this particular issue of concern to Nigerians, and I’m happy to inform Nigerians that Mr. President never told anyone that the petroleum subsidy should be removed.”
“I know and I agree that the subsidy is very heavy. But I think we must never transfer the burden to the citizens. I believe that we need to look at the quoted figure of maybe 100 million litres that people claim we are consuming.
“Is it real? I mean is it either under recoveries of subsidy? Is it really 100 million liters per day? How on earth are we consuming that? We need to look at this critically and see how we can find the truth.
“Because I am not convinced that within the boundaries of Nigeria we are consuming 100 million litres. Probably neighbouring countries may be benefiting from this. Can’t we do something about it? It is a failure on us if we are not able to control it, this particular aspect of smuggling of the petrol and then in return, push the burden to the ordinary citizen.’’
Persecondnews.com recalls that in October 2021, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had announced that the federal government had made provision for petrol subsidy only for the first six months of 2022 as the government looked towards complete deregulation of the sector.
Lauding Buhari for delaying action on subsidy removal, Lawan also said: “So I want to commend Mr. President, for still keeping this philosophy of ensuring that the most ordinary Nigerian does not suffer in any way. Government is meant to serve people. And the essence of governance we all know is to protect the lives and property and welfare of the people and that federal aspect is part of the welfare.
“ It may not be exactly the way we want it in the implementation of subsidy. But that is our challenge as an administration as a government. So we need to come together, both the legislature (the National Assembly) and those people and institutions and organizations that are in dealing with this matter to find a solution.’’
On the call by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors at their Monday meeting, Lawan said: “Well, that is their opinion. They had their time, they should have done something about it. Now we have to do something about it. I have admitted that the burden is heavy.
“But I don’t think that the ordinary citizen should be the one to bear the burden. Those of us in government should come together and find a solution to this including the PDP states. And PDP as a political party, there must be an irreducible minimum level of partisanship.
“There is a level at which you should not come down to because of politics …citizens first, preserve the people, preserve the country, then we can look for any office to govern. But we should not toy with lives of our people. I am very happy, very relieved with this meeting with Mr. President.”
Reminded that the subsidy has not been captured in the 2022 budget, the Senate President said he would not want to speculate on the matter, insisting that a solution must found to the issue.
On the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill which the President refused to sign, Lawan said: “By the grace of God tomorrow (Wednesday January 19) both chambers — the Senate and the House of Representatives — will pass the bill again.
“I hope that before the end of the week, the bill could be brought back to Mr. President for his assent. But one thing I’m sure by the grace of God is we are passing the bill, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2010, tomorrow Wednesday the 19th in both chambers.
`We are happy that at the end of the day, we have been able to narrow down our differences and arrive at the very patriotic resolution that our country must have a new electoral law that will guide the 2023 general elections in the country, and Nigeria would have everything to benefit from this law.’’