The Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai and his Anambra counterpart, Prof. Charles Soludo, have urged the Federal Government to end the fuel subsidy regime which has negatively affected Nigeria’s economy.
The governors made the call on Tuesday in Abuja during a panel session at the policy conversation on “How Nigeria Can Build a Post-Oil Economic Future”.
The symposium was jointly hosted by Agora Policy, a Nigerian Think Tank and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
It also featured the presentation of a recently published book titled “Economic Diversification in Nigeria: The Politics of Building a Post-Oil Economy”– selected as one of the Best Books of 2022 by the Financial Times.
The book was authored by Dr Zainab Usman, a senior fellow and Director of the Africa Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.
Speaking, El-Rufai emphasised on the need to end the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as fuel and to be pragmatic about solution to the problems instead of delay.
He recalled that in 2021, the National Economic Council (NEC) gave a committee he chaired an assignment to work out a framework on what to do with the resources if subsidy was removed including how much to be raised.
He listed the components of its recommendation to include framework on investments in security, social protection, infrastructure on health and education among others.
“We worked with experts and World Bank and came out with a report on what to do with the resources which would be transperently explained to Nigerians.
“In 2021 the Federal Government ‘s budget for road was N200 billion and in 2021 we were projecting to spend N1.2 trillion on subsidy and we saw the danger and I called for its removal.
“We have a framework and the economic council agreed for it to be withdrawn because we had a clear plan on where the money should go which include federal, state and local government for interventions.
“Still it is on and currently we are looking at N6 trillion on subsidy but go and check the national budget on infrastructure on health and education, it is not up to that and does not make any sense, so we need to end the subsidy,” he advised
Soludo on his part also called for a transformational leadership and agenda adding that the new dispensation had a chance for a fresh start.
“It has to start by getting the team assembled and getting to work immediately with institutional reforms and competitive system.
According to him, it will be necessary if we begin to mainstream case studies and utilise lessons from those case studies that worked before by replicating them.
The governor said that productive policies to achieve speed and sustainability prosperity for institutional reforms and change were the key.
Also speaking, former Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was a special guest, underscored the need to prepare the minds of Nigerians on bad decisions that have bankrupted the country and close that hole.
Sanusi said in order to get it right, the incoming government should place competent officials in suitable positions.
“We are going to have a government sworn in May 29 and I think we have to start stating what is expected of that government.
“What do we, as Nigerians, classify as a milestone that shows we are heading to the right direction.
“We also need a government that understands the depth of the crises that we are. We all have a responsibility of conveying the implications of the policies that we recommend.
“We need to go back to that situation where politicians respect the independence, integrity and autonomy of these institutions and where these institutions are held accountable by the law setting them up to perform duties,” he said.
Speaking, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Co-Founder, the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation and Chairman, Coronation Capital, explained that the fuel subsidy was not grounded on thinking rather it was purely political.
According to him, refining crude oil and producing refined petroleum products in Nigeria would actually drop the prices of petroleum.
He further explained that fiscal consideration, debt restructuring and massive private structure investment should be considered by the incoming government for economic growth.
The participants, who lamented on fuel subsidy removal, called for effective utilisation of resources after its removal in new dispensation.