Petrol subsidy removal was suspended because it was not in the country’s best interest, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.
He said while removing subsidies looks good on paper, the human consequences cannot be ignored.
Although his administration was on the verge of removing the petrol subsidy last year, President Buhari said it became inadvisable after input from industry experts and other economic factors.
The President spoke in an interview with Bloomberg. He fielded questions on a wide range of issues, including the economy, infrastructure development, activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the state of the nation.
The President pointed out that the West sustains its markets through fuel subsidies.
According to him, issues around petrol subsidy would be resolved through ongoing efforts at boosting local refining, especially through private sector involvement.
The President said: “Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
“What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things.
“My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year.
“After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable.
“Boosting internal production for refined products shall also help.
“Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board.
“The exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that can suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens.
“As we step up domestic production – both in fuel (enabled by PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.”
On whether the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele’s presidential bid violated any law, President Buhari said the CBN’s board had the responsibility to determine that.
He said: “The President appoints the CBN governor. But this appointment is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate.
“Ultimately, it will be for the CBN’s board of directors to determine whether a CBN governor’s actions have fallen foul of the laws in place to ensure he can most effectively carry out his duties.”
The President said he would endorse a candidate for president: “Yes. I will endorse the APC candidate for president.”
On stoning people accused of blasphemy to death, he said no person has the right to take the law into their own hands.