From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Labour Party (LP), has declared ineffective, the June 2023 deadline for fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had said that the Federal Government will completely do away with petroleum subsidy by June 2023.
She claims that in addition to the budget deficit, the fuel subsidy is severely straining the fiscals.
The scheduled date for removal of the controversial fuel subsidy is a month after the current administration leaves office.
In an exclusive interview with DailySun, Chief Spokeperson of the LP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Mr Yunusa Tanko, said the idea was dead on arrival.
According to him, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration does not have the moral nor legal backing to proclaim a date for subsidy removal beyond its tenure.
He said: “You cannot place something on nothing. They do not have the moral grounds or legal authority to give a date when they have left office. When they leave office the next person who comes into office makes the decisions not them. So that one is a dead on arrival statement that they made.”
Peter Obi, the LP presidential candidate, had earlier stated that if elected president, he would stop fuel subsidies and invest the money saved into vital areas of development like health and education.
He said that his administration would find measures to wean the nation off its reliance on oil importation and put a stop to fuel subsidies, saying that there was too much corruption in the system.
”I will remove it and use something to offer what is equivalent to what we are removing.
“In other words are we saying that subsidy is more important than lives and property? We must be able to say if we keep this, we will not get this. But because of mistrust, I have to say that subsidy is a scam.
“We have to look at how much it is, who is consuming it, where are we going to keep it. There are many scams all over the place including the cost of governance.”
“Fuel subsidy is an organized crime and I will remove it immediately if I am elected President. Which reasonable country will spend more on subsidy than education, health etc. ?.
“The money Nigeria is sharing from oil earning is finished! We now spend more today to service debts than we earn from oil! Nigeria now spends more to pay for subsidy on imported refined products than she earns from crude sales! Going forward, we must look for ways to move Nigeria beyond oil. We must end the criminality that is called oil subsidy” he said.
Commenting on the party’s campaigns around the country so far, Tanko said: “The campaigns have been marvelous considering that we are not buying any body’s presence. The support we have been getting have very organic. The little money we have to mobilize people to come to the venue we are very much appreciative of the kind of support that we have been getting.”
“We have been having a few challenges. Which is normal with any campaigns. But it has not stopped us. You saw what we were able to gather in Kano, Kaduna and Niger. So those who were thinking we may not be able to have any presence in the north, are starting to think that okay, this people are really serious. And we are serious.
“The challenges which we have is funding and the issue of insecurity, are normal with any campaign.” He disclosed.
Reacting to those accusing the party of organising big rallies rather than focusing on grass roots mobilisation, the LP chieftain explained that, “Many people do not know that we are doing grass root mobilization and rallies at the same time. We are mobilizing along the grass roots and at the same time doing the normal rallies. So that is why you see that some of our rallies are not gathering so much humongous crowds because the actual target has been at the grass roots.
On the issue of vote buying he said: “When anybody gets involved into selling his conscience and his vote, it is left for him to face the music but we have already advised that you sold your conscience long before and look at the result. So to us this is the time to stand and make sure you don’t sell your vote but vote the right candidate which is Peter Obi.”