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Atiku slams Tinubu for publicly halting fuel subsidy but making secret payments on it

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Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has lambasted the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration over what he describes as its lack of transparency and deceitful nature in handling the affairs of the country.

Atiku’s criticism of the government came after Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, admitted that Nigeria will be spending up to N5.4 trillion on oil subsidies in 2024.

The admission of secret subsidy payments which took Nigerians by surprise came after the government had consistently denied that it is still paying subsidy on petrol following a declaration by Tinubu that subsidy was gone in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023.

Edun who made the confession on the return of the subsidy regime in a recent presentation of the Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP) report, had alluded to the fact that fuel subsidy will gulp N5.4 trillion in 2024 after the initial denial that government had completely deregulated the product.

“At current rates, expenditure on fuel subsidy is projected to reach N5.4 trillion by the end of 2024. This compares unfavourably with N3.6 trillion in 2023 and N2.0 trillion in 2022,” a draft copy of the ASAP presented by Edun said.

The report was also in contrast to a statement credited to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Oil, Heineken Lokpobiri, who, at a recent ministerial briefing to mark Tinubu’s one year anniversary, insisted that fuel subsidy had been completely removed.

“I can confirm to you that subsidy is gone; officially, there is no subsidy; I want to make it clear that there is no subsidy in the country today”, Lokpobiri had claimed.

While reacting to the secret return of subsidy on his official X handle, Atiku said the Tinubu government should come clean and tell Nigerians the true position of things as they are.

He said: “President Bola Tinubu, at his inauguration on May 29, 2023, announced the abolishment of the subsidy on PMS, popularly known as fuel.

“Ever since, it has been a bragging right of Tinubu and officials of his administration.

“I had in my statement reviewing the one year of the Bola Tinubu administration urged the government to come clean on the actual position of the subsidy policy.

“These were my exact words: “…provide clarity on the fuel subsidy regime, including the fiscal commitments and benefits from the fuel subsidy reform and the impact of this on the Federation Accounts.

“It is curious that since April 2024, fuel queues have mounted at many filling stations across Nigeria, and the infamous ‘black market’ has sprouted in several states. How much PMS is being imported and distributed, and at what cost? What is the implicit subsidy?

“If the subsidy regime had been characterised by opaqueness, what would we say of a situation where the subsidy is still being paid under the cover without Nigerians in the know?

“Like millions of Nigerians, I was shocked to learn through media reports that
the “government is still supporting downstream consumption.

“Now we know that expenditure on fuel subsidy may reach N5.4 trillion in 2024, compared to the N3.6 trillion spent in 2023, the same year that Tinubu claimed to have abolished fuel subsidy.

“I wish to restate that Nigeria is not working, and what we have had in a little over a year is a cocktail of trial-and-error economic policies. Paying subsidies and lying about it is nothing to brag about. Nigerians deserve better than this deception. -AA

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