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Subsidy removal: Lawan urges NLC, TUC to shelve planned protests, says plan ‘unnecessary’

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan
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…As FG moves to suspend removal of fuel subsidy  
 
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has urged the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to abort the planned protests against the Federal government’s proposed removal of fuel subsidy, saying the move is “totally unnecessary”.

Lawan made the appeal on Monday when he met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and  National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.

Those at the meeting include the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi and the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

Also present were the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authourity, Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and Commissioned Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe.

Others are the Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Habib Nuhu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Shehu Shinkafi, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.

The Senate President, in his opening remarks at the meeting, faulted the timing for the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

He stated that in as much as the administration and management of subsidy on petroleum products are flawed, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government believes that sufficient planning must be carried out before its eventual removal.

Lawan, therefore, called on Labour unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union to shelve the planned protest rallies, adding that the Federal Government has no plan of removing the petroleum subsidy now.

He said, “The position of everyone in government today is that admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons.

“Admittedly, the burden is huge and massive and there is need at one point to do away with the subsidy.

“Even though our economy is growing, we still have the challenge of getting things to be better for our people.

“A lot of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care, especially that sufficient planning needs to be done.

“Significant arrangements for absorbing the shocks that will come with the removal should be done, that the timing should be such that the impact and consequences will not add to hardship. We all believe in this and Mr. President leads us in this feeling.

“What we are saying is that this is not the time. All of us are of the same opinion and, therefore, there is nothing like confusion or lack of understanding within the government circle.

“We all agree that the subsidy is abused and, therefore, it is a challenge to us as an administration to deal with the abuse, to find appropriate means of stopping it.

“After this meeting, there will be other ones, all in search of ways and means of ensuring that the ordinary Nigerian does not suffer any hardship, that when the subsidy will be removed eventually, it would be at such a point that the hardship will be very minimal and taken care of by several programmes.

“It is not about NLC, we are talking about every Nigerian. We are concerned beyond the Nigerian Labour Congress.

“I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the TUC and NLC to shelve this plan to go on strike or demonstration, it is totally unnecessary.

“There is not going to be removal of subsidy, so there is no need for this. Please, let’s not create unnecessary tension where there should be none.

“I appeal to them using this medium, to please forget about this January 27, 2022, deadline because there is no need for any deadline.

“We are supposed to come together and work assiduously to ensure that our country is stable, and our people enjoy the benefits of government programmes and projects, and that whatever decision would be taken will be in the best interest of our people and protecting the most vulnerable amongst us.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab, in her remarks, said that the Federal Government made provisions for subsidy  in the 2022 budget from January to June this year.

According to her, all payments on fuel subsidy ordinarily would cease as from July, 2022.

She observed that in view of the timing which is “problematic”, the Federal decided to suspend its plan to go ahead with the removal of subsidy on petroleum products in July, particularly against the backdrop of outcomes from ongoing consultations.

She added that the Federal Government is presently exploring alternatives to premium motor spirit as well as pushing to step-up the country’s crude oil refining capacity.

Ahmed disclosed that efforts are also underway by the Executive arm of government to forward a request to the National Assembly to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July this year till a time deemed appropriate for its eventual removal.

“Let me start by stating the fact that we did make a provision in the 2022 budget for fuel subsidy from January to June. And that suggests that from July there would be no fuel subsidy.

“This provision was made sequel to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act that has made a provision that all products will be deregulated.

“Subsequent to the passage of the Act, we went back an amended the Fiscal Framework that was submitted to the National Assembly to incorporate this demand, but after the budget was passed we have had consultations with a number of stakeholders.

“It became clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation, and also removal of subsidy will further worsen the situation, thereby, imposing more difficulties on the citizens, and Mr. President clearly does not want to do that.

“What we have to do now is to continue with the discussions we are making, in terms of putting in place a number of measures, one of which is the deployment of an alternative to the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and also the roll out of enhanced refining capacity in the country, including the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery  and also the rehabilitation of the four national refineries that have a combined capacity of 450,000 barrels per day.

“The increased refining capacity in the country means we will need to import less products. But also as we are discussing right now within the Executive the possibility of amending the budget, we may need to come back to the National Assembly by way of amendment to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July, 2022, going forward, or to whatever period that is agreed as the right time.

“Also, while we are exploring ways and means through discussion with various stakeholders in the executive as well as the Civil Societies and Labour Unions to explore ways by which we can address this removal in a manner that is graduated and will have as minimal impact on the citizens as possible.

“So, we will come back to make further amendments on the fiscal framework as well as in the 2022 budget.”
 

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Let’s move on – Ningi Tells Colleagues On Resumption From Suspension

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Senator Abdul Ningi ( PDP Bauchi Central ), on resumption from suspension , told fellow Senators on Tuesday at plenary that ” It’s time to move on ” , just as the Senate President , Godswill Akpabio , said ” bygone should be bygone .

Senator Ningi made the ‘ time to move on ‘ assertion while expressing his appreciation to the Senate for recalling him from suspension after spending 75 out of 90 days slammed on him on March 12, 2024 at the committee of the whole .

Ningi who expressed his appreciation through Order 42 of the Senate standing rules , said he was in Turkey when he had of his being recalled from suspension.

He said : Mr President , Distinguished colleagues , I rise with profound humility to commend the Senate , its President , Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Senate leadership and the minority caucus for recalling me from suspension .

” I was in Turkey when the news got to me last week and I’m very much appreciative of the gesture .

” I’m happy to be back at home because National Assembly is like home to me , having served as House leader , Deputy Senate Leader in the past and now as one pf the Distinguished serving senators .

” I also thank my State Governor , Senator Bala Mohammed , the people of Bauchi State and other Nigerians who reached out to me in one way or the other during the period that has now been put behind “.

In his response , the President of the Senate , Senator Godswill Akpabio , on behalf of the Senate , said bygone should be bygone .

” Distinguished Senator Abdul Ningi , you are a very resourceful person needed in the 10th Senate , electorates from Bauchi Central Senatorial District voted you for .

” You are welcome and let bygone be bygone

The Senate had on Tuesday last week on the strength of motion sponsored by the minority leader , Senator Abba Moro on behalf of minority caucus , recalled Senator Ningi from the three months suspension .

Recall that Senator Ningi was suspended by the Senate at the committee of the whole on 2024 budget padding allegation leveled against the Senate during interview he had with the BBC Hausa service.

Apparently elated to be back in the Senate , Senator Ningi was among the first set of Senators and House of Representatives members to arrive the National Assembly for plenary on Tuesday .

Senator Ningi who along with some few other Senators like Suleiman Kawu ( NNPP Kano South) , Aminu Waziri Tambuwal ( PDP Sokoto South) etc , came into the National Assembly through the Villa Gate , arrived exactly at 10: 40am , 20minutes to 11:00am fixed for commencement of plenary which even started at about 12:10 pm .

However as a result of his suspension , Senator Ningi lost his Chairmanship position of the Senate Committee on National Identity and Population , which was allocated to Senator Mustapha Musa ( APC Yobe East ) ,two days after the now lifted suspension .

 

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Commissioner of Police Dies At Force Headquarters

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Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mr. Abubakar Muhammad Guri was reported to have slumped and passed away on Monday at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

According to sources, DCP Muhammad collapsed shortly after entering his office at the Louis Edet House, without displaying any prior signs of illness.

Eyewitnesses recounted that the late police chief, dressed in his uniform, collapsed on his seat within his office premises. Swift action was taken as fellow officers rushed him to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

Sadly, despite all efforts to revive him, DCP Muhammad was pronounced dead upon arrival at the medical facility.

An unnamed source familiar with the situation shared, “Some officers rushed him to the hospital and even before reaching there, he had already passed away.”

Despite the gravity of the incident, official statements from police authorities are yet to be issued regarding the untimely demise of DCP Muhammad.

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INEC Extends Voter Registration In Edo, Ondo

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Following a review meeting held with stakeholders, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), said it has extended voters’ registration for Edo and Ondo States respectively.

Registration was earlier slated to end on the 5th of June, 2024 in the two states.

However, a statement by the commission said following appeals by stakeholders, the date has been extended from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th, June 2024, to allow more eligible persons to register.

The commission, similarly, extended the duration of the exercise from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.

Furthermore, it said the number of centres has been increased beyond 397 wards, and the two states’ offices in Benin City and Akure to include all the 36 Local Government offices of the commission.

“More machines will also be deployed to areas identified to have peculiar needs such as difficult terrain or communal issues,” the statement partly said.

Like the ward registration centres, INEC explained that the detailed information on the names and location addresses of the LGA offices, have also been uploaded on its websites and social media platforms for the guidance of registration in the two states.

Meanwhile, the commission said the exercise is progressing in the two states.

It said, “As of Monday, 3rd June 2024, eight days after the commencement of the CVR, a cumulative of 120, 1458 new voters have registered. Of this figure, 55, 861 (46.4%) are male, while 120, 458 (53.6%) are female,”

It added that the majority of the 82, 003 registered voters, representing 68.8 per cent, are youth between the ages of 18-34 years.

In terms of occupation, 43, 419 or 36.8 per cent are students, while 812, 0.67 per cent, are persons with disability.

It, however, noted that the figures were preliminary, adding that the final figures will be published on a state basis and for all categories of registration at the end of the exercise, and after data clean-up, using Automated Biometric Identified System (ABIS).

 

 

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