Garba Shehu, the former Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, recently addressed the issue of fuel subsidy removal by the Buhari administration. In a statement shared on his verified Twitter handle, Shehu clarified that the decision to remove fuel subsidy was not due to the APC’s election agenda. He further explained the reasons behind the removal of other subsidies during the Buhari administration’s tenure and highlighted the decisive actions taken by the new Tinubu/Shettima presidency.
Shehu emphasized that various subsidies, including electricity, fraudulent fertilizer, Hajj/Christian Pilgrim, diesel, aviation fuel, LPFO, kerosene, and cooking gas subsidies, were present when President Buhari took office in 2015. However, he pointed out that these subsidies were gradually eliminated over the years, relieving the federal budget of the enormous burden they posed, including the annual fertilizer subsidy that amounted to billions of Naira.
Shehu clarified that while the Buhari administration did not remove fuel subsidy, they successfully abolished other budget-busting subsidies that impeded economic growth. He highlighted the importance of understanding the context and stages through which these decisions were made. Shehu also acknowledged that the Tinubu/Shettima presidency, which is now in power, has effectively managed the aftermath of the subsidy removal decisions, demonstrating skillful leadership and avoiding any crisis.
In light of the new administration’s efforts and the critical tasks ahead, Shehu expressed the desire not to distract them or steal their spotlight. He urged fellow countrymen to support the new leadership and encouraged labor organizations and civil society to collaborate with them to ensure the successful implementation of promised palliative measures.
Shehu emphasized that the decision to remove subsidies was not solely made by the President but required broader considerations. He referred to the Buhari administration’s consistent approach since 2015, mentioning that the removal of subsidies for the Naira and PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) was initially planned and postponed. Shehu explained that such a significant decision could not have been made during a time of high tensions in the country, as responsible leaders would not have aggravated the situation.
Shehu highlighted the political reality of the Buhari administration’s final days, stating that they could not proceed with the complete removal of subsidies due to the upcoming elections. He pointed out that polls consistently indicated that the party would have faced defeat if the decisions outlined in the new Petroleum Industry Act had been implemented. Shehu emphasized that this consideration would have applied to any political party seeking re-election with a new leader at its helm.
Garba Shehu’s statement sheds light on the Buhari administration’s stance on fuel subsidy removal and clarifies the sequence of subsidy eliminations during their tenure. While fuel subsidy removal was not directly undertaken, the Buhari administration successfully abolished numerous other subsidies that strained the economy. Shehu acknowledged the positive steps taken by the Tinubu/Shettima presidency and urged support for their decisions and the implementation of promised palliative measures.