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Garba Shehu clarifies fuel subsidy removal in Buhari administration

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Garba Shehu, the former Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, has addressed the issue of fuel subsidy removal during the Buhari administration. In a statement shared on his verified Twitter handle, Shehu clarified that the decision was not made due to the APC’s election agenda. He explained the reasons behind the recent removal of petrol subsidy under the new Tinubu/Shettima presidency, contrasting it with Buhari’s eight-year tenure.

Shehu highlighted various subsidies, including electricity, fraudulent fertilizer, Hajj/Christian Pilgrim, diesel, aviation fuel, LPFO, kerosene, and cooking gas subsidies, which were prevalent when Buhari assumed office in 2015. He emphasized that all these subsidies were gradually phased out by May 2023, significantly reducing the burden on the federal budget. However, he clarified that the petrol subsidy was not removed by Buhari but commended the administration for eliminating other economically detrimental subsidies along the way.

The spokesperson refrained from directly answering questions about the removal of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the dual rates of the Naira. He suggested that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should address these inquiries. Shehu also acknowledged the new Tinubu/Shettima presidency and its current responsibilities, expressing a desire not to divert attention from their crucial tasks.

Shehu praised the timing and management of the decisions to remove fuel subsidy and unify the currency by the Tinubu/Shettima administration. He emphasized the importance of support from the public, labor leadership, and civil society to ensure successful implementation of promised palliative efforts. Shehu also explained that the decision to remove subsidies was not solely the President’s responsibility, as evidenced by the Buhari administration’s longstanding commitment to this pathway since 2015.

According to Shehu, the decision was strategically deferred due to the country’s high tensions and the need to avoid exacerbating the situation. He commended the wit and resilience of the Tinubu government in taking on this challenging task. Shehu acknowledged the political realities and stated that the Buhari administration, in its final days, could not have fully implemented the removal of subsidies due to the impending election. He emphasized that any political party seeking re-election with a new leader would have faced the same constraints.

Shehu concluded by acknowledging that poll after poll indicated that the party would have been voted out of office if the decision to remove subsidies, as envisaged by the new Petroleum Industry Act, had been implemented at that time. This acknowledgement highlighted the political context surrounding the Buhari administration’s decision-making process during its final days

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