National Leader of the All progressives Congress and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Friday in Kaduna, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately remove the subsidy on fuel, saying that it had overstayed its usefulness.
Tinubu argued that since the ordinary Nigerians no longer benefit from it, the oil subsidy regime must go for the country to move forward.
In a keynote address, entitled, “Towards the economic liberation of Nigeria, Bala Usman’s enduring relevance” delivered at the memorial conference organised in honour of the Late Dr. Bala Usman by the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training, Zaria, the former governor said his call for subsidy removal was not mere talk but a call to action for those in authority.
According to him, there are too many demons in the system which need to be removed.
He noted that to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal, the government must as a matter of urgency embark on programmes benefiting the poorest in the country.
He listed such programmes as transportation subsidies, school feeding, improved basic medical care and coverage for the poor as well as provision of potable water to Nigeria.
This, he noted, should be done simultaneously with the oil subsidy removal by the government. The APC National leader said, “Better that we remove it, not for the austere purpose of saving money, but to use the money more wisely that we might better save the people. Let us begin a process of a thoughtful but decisive subsidy phase-out.
“While this is happening, we should simultaneously phase in social programmes benefiting the poorest, and most vulnerable, among us.
“Programmes such as transportation subsidies, school feeding, improved basic medical care and coverage for the poor, and potable water projects are some of the things that can be done with the same funds. What I have said here is more than talk. It is a call to action.
“In a perfect world, I wish we could sanitise the subsidy regime and thus continue it. However, I have reached the conclusion that there are too many demons in the system for that hell to be turned into heaven. This way we can undertake this massive expenditure confident that the fruits will go to the hungry, not the already over-fed. End the fuel subsidy. Subsidise the people instead. Subsidise the people instead!” he insisted.
“Fuel subsidy was a good idea that has been perverted into its opposite. Created to aid the common man, it is now a device used by the crooked to produce a windfall for themselves.”
While extolling the virtue of the late historian, Tinubu noted that with all his royalty, he chose to align with the poor masses.
He said, “Bala could have combined his royal lineage with his academic erudition to enjoy the high and easy life.
“He could have been part of any government or ruling clique that suckled itself on toil, blood and patience of the people. Bala chose to side with the masses. Now it is our duty to side with him.”
The chief host and governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nsair El-Rufai, had earlier said in his speech that Bala cared and spent his life fighting for the common man.
El-Rufai said, “He cared about ordinary people and spent his life fighting for the common man.
Culled from Punch newspapers