Tinubu Orders Palliatives To Cushion Effect Of Fuel Subsidy Removal

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that palliatives be put in place to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal on the masses.

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), disclosed this to reporters in Abuja on Thursday after meeting with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, at the Party’s national secretariat.

According to Kyari, there is no going back on the petrol subsidy removal because Nigeria can no longer afford subsidy.

The Managing Director said: “There was subsidy in 2022; but in 2023, not a single naira was provided for the purpose of financing the subsidy. And ultimately, we held back our fiscal obligations, we still have a net balance of over N2.8trn that the federation should have given back to the NNPC.

“For any company, when you have negative N2.8trn, there’s no company in the whole of Africa that’ll lend to you. You cannot have receivables. The provision of subsidy is there but absolutely there’s no funding for it. It means it’s only on paper. So, it doesn’t exist.

“It’s very obvious that we can no longer afford it. Subsidy bills have piled up. The country is not able to settle NNPC for the money we are spending on the subsidy.

“Therefore, pricing these petroleum at the market is the right thing to do at this time. We believe this will benefit the overall country in the long run and in a long term.

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“I’m aware that Mr President has directed some engagement and some palliatives will be put in place. And I’m very sure this will happen.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, in a statement on Thursday through its acting director, Isa Sanusi, said the petrol subsidy removal must not worsen poverty in Nigeria. He said Tinubu’s decision to remove the subsidy had left millions of Nigerians terrified about the knock-on effects it would have on their daily lives.

“Many are concerned that they will be unable to meet the costs of education, food and healthcare. The government is yet to suggest any ways to mitigate the impact of this decision for people on low incomes.

“While all countries are required to eventually remove all fossil fuel subsidies to meet their human rights obligations in the context of the climate crisis, they should not do so in a way that undermines the ability of people on low incomes to secure their right to an adequate standard of living. It is therefore vital that the removal of the subsidy is accompanied by social cushioning and protection measures.

“Nigerians should not have to pay the price of decades of political and economic mismanagement of the subsidy scheme. The authorities must finally respond to longstanding demands by civil society and parliamentarians to investigate the fuel market chain and hold accountable all those involved in smuggling, hoarding and ‘subsidy scams’ — regardless of rank or status.

“The Nigerian authorities must urgently put in place measures to protect the rights of people most affected by the removal of the fuel subsidies and prioritize addressing widespread hunger, higher unemployment and the rapidly falling standard of living.”