National Leader of the All Progressive Congress and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said that the president made a courageous decision to end the subsidy regime.
According to Tinubu, “the president’s decision to reallocate funds once earmarked for the fuel subsidy and commit those funds to other more socially productive services and undertakings was a difficult decision. It was also a necessary one”.
Over the years, the operation of the measure was distorted to where it no longer functioned for the benefit of the masses but for the undue enrichment of a small club of businessmen, some legitimate in their work, some not.
Instead of remaining a positive aspect of the social contract, the subsidy was transformed into an opaque haven of intrigue and malfeasance. It was turned into a shadowy process from which the unscrupulous extracted large sums of money without providing the services and products duly paid for. Fake businessmen became true billionaires overnight as if by supernatural force.
To allow this unfairness to continue would have been a breach of the promise made by this government to the people. It became a weapon of profiteering. The machinery of the subsidy had become so polluted that it was no longer feasible to talk about reforming it. Either it had to cease or we would have to surrender to the corruption now inherent in it.
President Buhari has, with this decision, put an abrupt and just end to this assault against our economy and political system. He has made a courageous and prudent decision. It is time to end the fuel subsidy and to begin to subsidise the true needs of the people. To Mr. President, I say congratulation for having the courage to remove the subsidy.”
For some time, I have been a proponent of this action. I believed ending of subsidy was the only sure way to put to sleep the myriad demons that had invaded the subsidy process, sucking the blood of Nigeria, swallowing much of our needed money.
Nigeria has taken the historic step needed to create a competitive environment that will eliminate smuggling, provide incentives for private refineries and attract foreign investments in the downstream sector and create employment,” he stated.
Tinubu who admitted that the development meant “higher fuel costs generally”, and will cause “pain and dislocation”, said that the president did not end the subsidy regime essentially to save money but “for the nobler purpose of putting those same funds to fairer, more equitable use in order that government might better serve those of us who are truly in utmost need.”
Thus, I ask everyone to take a step back to coolly and objectively assess what has been decided. We must not make the mistake of allowing our political and sympathetic attachment to the subsidy blind us to the hard fact that the purpose and benefits of the subsidy had long ago been taken from the common man to reside in the purse of elite few.
We cannot persist in this imbalance and think it will help us to development. Instead, it is better to end the subsidy and use the funds to establish well-targeted anti-poverty programmes that actually assist the people in need.