To win the presidential election, Buhari kept the fuel subsidy, according to Garba Shehu

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Garba Shehu, a former media adviser to the president, has defended his principal, former President Muhammadu Buhari, against claims that he did not eliminate fuel subsidies and abolish the several foreign exchange rates during his eight years in office.
It is incorrect for anyone to accuse the former President of failing to withdraw subsidies, according to Shehu, who stated this in a lengthy article on Monday.

He maintained that Buhari eliminated every other outrageous, budget-busting subsidy along the way, such as the subsidies for diesel, fertilizer, aviation fuel, and others.

He claimed that if the Petroleum Industry Act, which contains the withdrawal of the gasoline subsidy, had been put into effect earlier, the ruling party would have lost the 2023 election.

Shehu asked: “Why did it take the new Tinubu/Shettima presidency weeks to remove the petrol subsidy when Buhari didn’t do so for years and failed to ask the right question” in a statement titled: “Buhari didn’t fail to remove subsidy”.

“The significant subsidy for power. the fictitious subsidy for fertilizer. Christian and Muslim pilgrim subsidies. Recall them?

“The subsidy for diesel. the subsidy for aviation fuel. LPFO. Kerosene. We discovered existing subsidy policies for cooking gas and other commodities and placed them firmly in place. Recall them?

For those who don’t remember, many of these subsidies were already in place when President Buhari was elected to office in 2015; all of them were eliminated by May 2023, including the annual fertilizer subsidy, which weighed 60–100 billion Naira (that’s trillion Naira in about 10 years, yes you read that right) heavily on the federal budget each year.

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“So no, Buhari didn’t get rid of the fuel subsidy, but he did get rid of every other outrageous, budget-busting subsidy along the road that was stifling economic progress.

Why did Buhari ‘fail’ to do these? is a question that has been asked repeatedly about the withdrawal of subsidies for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Nigeria and that resulted from the dual prices of the Naira in the Central Bank and the parallel market.

“First of all, in my opinion, the Party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is best prepared to respond to this matter rather than the former President. If the Party declines to do so, we are compelled to say what is to follow.

“Secondly, we are aware that there is a ‘New Sheriff in Town’ with the Tinubu/Shettima presidency currently in place.

“We don’t want to divert them from the difficult tasks that they and the country must do. Furthermore, we have no desire to diminish their importance in any manner.

“The Tinubu/Shettima administration has done overwhelmingly well in terms of the timeliness of the choices to eliminate fuel subsidies and converge the currency. More importantly, they have done a masterful job of handling the decisions’ fallout by averting any crises.

To this end, we hope and pray that our countrymen will continue to support the new leadership in making these admirable choices. In particular, we ask that the Labour leadership and civil society join forces with them to make sure that the promised palliative efforts are carried out.

“The President did not have sole authority to decide whether to eliminate subsidies, as was the case in our instance and, in our opinion, in all circumstances.

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“For this reason, it’s critical that we all be reminded—as well as anyone else who has conveniently forgotten—that the Buhari government has been following this course since its inception in 2015.

“Removing Naira and PMS subsidies was signaled and put on hold. Take the Petroleum Industry Act as an illustration. The crucial choice was postponed until later.

It could not have happened at a time when national tensions were high and no respectable leader would have stoked the flames.

Many people, including those in the security community, believe that only a fresh administration with a reservoir of goodwill could do this. This is where the Tinubu administration’s wit and tenacity come into play.

Last but not least, we need to be politically honest with ourselves. Due to the APC’s need to win an election, the Buhari administration was unable to continue in its last days. And that would have been the case for any political party running for re-election with a new leader in place.

“Poll after poll revealed that if the decision envisioned under the new Petroleum Industry Act was implemented, the party would have been removed from office.

“Now that the election is over, we are in the best position to move forward with a capable leader in place as we currently have. After these significant economic and financial decisions, we have complete faith that the new administration will lead the country and all of its people towards a stable future.

“There are times when losing is necessary in order to win,”

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