By Sunday Ani

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in the February 25 presidential election, Prince Adewole Adebayo, has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reduce wastage and corruption in governance in Nigeria.

Adebayo, who made the call recently in a television programme, said removing fuel subsidies was not enough if the economy must be put on the right footing but he should also tackle wastage and corruption in the country’s governance structure.

He expressed surprise that Nigerians were complaining about the removal of fuel subsidy by President Tinubu when they were the ones that made that choice on February 25, 2023.

He noted that during the electioneering campaigns ahead of the election, the three leading political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) made it clear to Nigerians that subsidy on petrol would be removed if elected. He added that it was only his party, the SDP that stood against subsidy removal during the campaign, stressing that Nigerians made their choice and should not complain.

Adebayo insisted that the subsidy removal only reflected the APC’s campaign plans as was made known to Nigerians. He said: “We thought it was a very bad idea and we debated it all over the country, but the three major parties which supported subsidy removal, the APC, the PDP and the LP were handsomely rewarded by the voters. People like us, the SDP said no, cut corruption because you need a social safety net for the people and the subsidy is a way to control other cost drivers to avoid cost-push inflation.

“So, try to cut the heavy burden of wastage of corruption, not the subsidy. I think the same position was taken by Omoyele Sowore and others. You can see that the voters think we didn’t have a better argument. We didn’t do well, but these three parties did so well. So, when the president was now demonstrating the APC’s plans at the inauguration.”

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He, however, noted that in making that announcement on the day of his inauguration, the president was not aware that his voice was the weather veil of Nigeria and that whatever he said would move all markets.

“It appears he had a targeted audience that he wanted to communicate to; may be investors, and bilateral and multilateral agencies, but he forgot the most important people, which are the people of Nigeria. You don’t have to throw them into panic by saying the subsidy is gone. But, it turned out that they are sticking to their guns. The only duty I owe the Nigerian people is to remind them that they had options and they decided to go with the three parties which said they were going to cut subsidies because 90 per cent of the votes cast was shared by the three parties that were united from day one.

“It’s now left for the Nigerian people to understand that elections have consequences. So, next time if you are not happy, the SDP is still here because you have four years to think about whether you made a good decision or not,” he stated.

Adebayo argued that of the three parties that wanted to remove subsidy, APC is the smartest because according to him, “There are no half measures; if you want to remove subsidy, then you need to be decisive in removing it. You also have to ensure you liberalise the market to allow some degree of competition.”

He commended the president’s approach to the foreign exchange rate, saying the approach was better than that of the fuel subsidy.

“It is remarkable that in that speech, he also said he was going to create the convergence of the exchange rate. He delivered better than he delivered on the subsidy issue. The language he used is quite therapeutic that people don’t realise that what he said was that he was going to devalue the Naira because if you say you are going to harmonise the exchange rate, there is no way you harmonise the exchange rate that is going to trend south. No, it is going to trend north. The official rate is the only one that can travel. The autonomous, which is the black market, is already in the market, so the two of them are going to remain there since the official rate is the one in bondage,” he said.