On Monday, Garba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, stated that if Buhari had eliminated the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, the current President, Bola Tinubu, would have failed in his presidential bid.
Shehu, in a statement titled, “Why did it take the new Tinubu/ Shettima presidency weeks to remove the petrol subsidy when Buhari didn’t do so for years fails to ask the right question,” which was posted via his official Twitter handle @garbashehu noted that tensions were high and Buhari did not want to add “fuel to the fire.”
Furthermore, Shehu highlighted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had a crucial election to win, and given the prior elimination of various subsidies like diesel subsidy and hajj/Christian pilgrim subsidy, Buhari could not have abolished the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit during the final days of his administration.
Part of Shehu’s statement reads as follows: “So far I have refrained from answering these repeated questions on the removal in Nigeria of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS and that arising from the dual rates of the Naira in the Central Bank and the parallel market: Why did Buhari “fail” to do these?
“First of all, my thinking is that instead of the former President answering this question, it is the Party, the All Progressives Congress, that is best suited to speak, and failing to do this, we are forced to say what will follow here.
Secondly, we are mindful of the fact that with a Tinubu/Shettima presidency now in place and for which there is a “New Sheriff in Town.
“We do not want to distract them from the onerous tasks facing them and the nation. Neither is it our wish to take the spotlight away from them in any way.
“In terms of the timings of the decisions to remove fuel subsidy and unify the currency, the Tinubu/Shettima administration has done overwhelmingly well. Even more importantly, they have been most dexterous in managing the aftermath of the decisions by successfully avoiding any crisis.
“The decision to remove subsidies, as in our case – and we believe in all situations – was not for the President to take all by himself. That’s why it’s important to remind ourselves – and all those who have conveniently forgotten – that the Buhari administration had been on this pathway from the very beginning in 2015.
“Removing subsidies for the Naira and PMS was cued and put on hold. Look, for example, in the Petroleum Industry Act. The important decision was kept for a better time. It could not have come at a time when tensions were high in the country, and no responsible leader would have added fuel to the fire.
“In the view of many-including those in the security circles- only a new administration with goodwill that fills a warehouse can attempt this, and here now comes the wit and grit of the Tinubu government.
“Finally, we must be politically honest with ourselves. The Buhari administration, in its last days, could not have gone the whole way because the APC had an election to win.
“And that would have been the case with any political party that was seeking election for another term with a new principal at its head.
“Poll after poll showed that the Party would have been thrown out of office if the decision as envisaged by the new Petroleum Industry Act was made.
With the election now behind us, a capable leader as we now have in place is best positioned to move forward. We have nothing but confidence that the new administration will carry the nation and all its constituents into a stable future in the aftermath of these major economic and financial decisions.”