By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
AGAINST the backdrop of the planned labour cum civil society protest over the alleged planned removal of petroleum subsidy, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday categorically declared that President Muhammadu Buhari has not directed anyone in his administration to implement the removal of petroleum subsidy.
Recall that the organized labour through the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has directed all its state councils to mobilize members for one day nationwide protest in the 36 States of the federation against the planned subsidy removal on petroleum and the imposed tax on soft drinks deregulation on January 27, 2022.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba had also announced that what he described as the mother of all protests will take place in Abuja in February.
But the President of the senate told State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that he had gone to convey the feeling of constituents to him (Buhari) on some concerns including the proposed removal of subsidy.
It will also be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, had announced last October that the federal government made provision for petrol subsidy only for the first six months of 2022 as the government looked towards complete deregulation of the sector.
The Minister had said, “In our 2022 budget, we only factored in subsidy for the first half of the year; the second half of the year, we are looking at complete deregulation of the sector, saving foreign exchange and potentially earning more from the oil and gas industry.”
However, the President of the Senate told journalists that the lawmakers are worried about the different agitation and protests around the country, adding that it was what necessitated the discussion with the President.
Lawan said he was glad to inform Nigerians that Buhari has not told anyone to remove the petroleum subsidy.
According to him, “Well, it will be of interest to Nigerians to hear what I’ve come to discuss with Mr President among several other things.
“Many of us are very concerned with the recent agitations, protests, and many citizens were so concerned, our constituents across the country are very concerned that the federal government will remove the petroleum subsidy.
“And for us, as parliamentarians, as legislators representing the people of Nigeria, this must be of interest to us.
“And we’ve just finished our recess, we had gone home to our constituencies and senatorial districts. And will feel 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.”