The Peoples Democratic Party has said by proposing another 18-month extension for fuel subsidy removal, the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is shifting the responsibility to the next administration.
In an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, the National Publicity Secretary, PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the opposition party was not surprised by the Federal Government’s decision.
The Federal Government had on Tuesday announced plans to extend the subsidy removal implementation period by another 18 months.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents during a special briefing on fuel subsidy at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Sylva’s declaration came barely 24 hours after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced the suspension of the planned petrol subsidy removal.
Speaking during a meeting held at the National Assembly in Abuja on Monday, Ahmed had said the suspension would be until further notice. However, Sylva, who was also at the meeting with the lawmakers on Monday, said the Federal Government was proposing an 18-month extension of the statutory period to implement the removal of subsidy on petrol.
According to him, the extension will give all stakeholders time to ensure that the implementation is carried out in a manner that ensures that all necessary modalities are in place to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal in line with prevailing economic realities.
However, the PDP spokesman, on Thursday, accused the All Progressives Congress of toying with Nigerians, a move he said, would lead to the party’s failure in the 2023 elections as “Nigerians are tired.”
Ologunagba said, “Buhari and the APC shift responsibility any day and any time. So, it is consistent with the APC. They are constantly shifting responsibility. If you will recall when there was a massacre in Benue State, there was an outcry that the President was not there to sympathise with the people.
“When he eventually travelled there, he shifted the blame to the Inspector-General of Police, saying the IG had moved to Nasarawa instead of Benue, where he was asked to relocate to. That’s the kind of leadership he runs. There’s an overall passing of blame.
“The APC has never owned up to anything. So, we are not surprised that they would do that. But we know that Nigerians are tired and they won’t vote for the APC one more time.”
The former lawmaker also argued that contrary to the prevalent narrative about the PDP’s 16-year rule, Nigeria experienced incredible growth during the same period.
He said, “You will also recall the narrative about the PDP wrecking the economy in the 16 years it spent in power. This is not true. Those accusing us are doing so on distorted facts.
“Under the PDP, Nigeria’s economy was the fastest growing in Africa and number 26 in the world. Unemployment was less than it is today. We had over $500bn in our external reserves. Today, we don’t even know what is there.
“This government shifts blame, and that’s why for the first six months in office, we didn’t have ministers. So, it’s about shifting blames.”
Ologunagba added that the Federal Government’s decision to postpone fuel subsidy removal was meant to increase its chances of re-election in 2023.
He stated, “We are aware that the government reneged on removing the petroleum subsidy to incentivise Nigerians to vote for the APC in the 2023 elections, because we know that there is often a spike in the subsidy around election periods.
“If you check from the previous election, you will notice a spike from the previous year into the election year. Now, we are in another cycle, and their projection is rising to N3tn.
“They have no plans for Nigerians; they have no policy. But again, Nigerians are up. They are hoping for the PDP to rescue them. And like I always say, hope is a superpower. We are ready. Nigerians are ready. Our party is ready.”