Senate President Ahmed Lawan has debunked reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the remove fuel subsidy.
Sen. Lawan’s stance, however, is at variance with that of Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
At a recent media briefing, the minister had given June 23 as terminal date for removal of fuel subsidy, citing the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which stipulates stages of regulating the oil sector to enhance its efficiency.
Ahmed had said, “From July to December, there is no provision made for subsidy. Our assumption is that by June, we would have been able to work through a process with all stakeholders, NOC, oil regulators, different MDAs that have a role to play as well as businesses.
“The PIA has made a provision that prices of products in the petroleum sector must be deregulated.
“And so far, we have been able to deregulate kerosene prices, diesel prices, the only one that is still not deregulated is PMS. We are trying to comply with the law because the PIA is an Act of the NASS and government has a responsibility to comply.”
However, Sen. Lawan, on Tuesday, told State House Correspondents after a meeting with the President Buhari, that Nigerians were concerned about the consequences of fuel price hike in event of subsidy removal based on interactions with their constituents during their recess.
Said he, “We’ve just finished our recess; we had gone home to our constituencies and senatorial districts. And we felt the pulse of our people.
“And I found it necessary to visit Mr. President, as the leader of our government and our leader in the country, to discuss this particular issue of concern to Nigerians, and I’m happy to inform Nigerians that Mr. President never told anyone that the petroleum subsidy should be removed.
“I know and I agree that the subsidy is very heavy. But I think we must never transfer the burden to the citizens.
“I believe that we need to look at the quoted figure of maybe 100 million litres that people claim we’re consuming. Is it real?
“I mean is it either under recoveries of subsidy? Is it really 100 million liters per day? How on earth are we consuming that? We need to look at this critically and see how we can find the truth because I am not convinced that within the boundaries of Nigeria, we are consuming 100 million liters,” the Senate President said.”
Fuel subsidy has been a contentious in the country right from the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigerians had protested the recent proposal for its removal and organised labour is mobilising to resist it’s implementation, saying removing fuel subsidy would have adverse spiralling effect on the people.