June 4, 2023

Tinubunomics: Our concerns on strategy, by CSJ

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Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) says it is deeply concerned about President Tinubu’s decision to remove petrol subsidy without engagement and consultation with stakeholders.

“While CSJ has long advocated for the removal of PMS subsidy, the abruptness and lack of transparency surrounding this announcement raises several critical questions and potential consequences for the citizens of Nigeria”, the body said in a note to Sunday Vanguard signed by Eze Onyekpere, Lead Director, and Victor Okeke, Strategic Communications Officer.

The note reads: “We recall President Bola Tinubu’s inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, in which he declared the end of petrol subsidy. “Subsequently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) announced an upward review in the pump price of PMS across the nation, effective from May 31, 2023.

“CSJ recognizes the need for sustainable economic policies and applauds efforts to address the issues related to petrol subsidy. “However, the current manner in which the removal of subsidy has been carried out raises significant concerns that demand urgent attention.

“First, the lack of public consultation and agreements that should accompany the reform package including palliatives for the poor, cutting down the cost of governance, the fate of the public refineries, etc., prior to the removal of the subsidy is troubling. It is very important that decisions of this magnitude, which directly affect the lives of citizens, are made through inclusive and participatory processes, ensuring that diverse perspectives are taken into account.

“Additionally, the lack of transparency and clarity in the computation of the new fuel prices circulated by NNPCL is disturbing. CSJ urges the government to provide a comprehensive breakdown of the cost components and the basis for the calculation of the new fuel price. “This information is vital for the citizens to understand the rationale behind the price adjustment.

“Furthermore, the sudden removal of petrol subsidy without a clear plan to mitigate the potential adverse effects on the already burdened citizens will exacerbate their suffering. The cost of living has already been a significant challenge for many Nigerians, and this decision has the potential to further escalate the financial burden on households across the country.

“We also question the willingness of the political class to make corresponding sacrifices in terms of reducing the cost of governance, including their illegitimate and consistent earnings outside the approval of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. Without this demonstration of commitment, the burden of subsidy removal will disproportionately fall on the already struggling citizens.

“CSJ calls on the government to provide clarity on how the funds saved from the subsidy removal will be reinvested for the benefit of the citizens.

“It is crucial that these resources are allocated to essential sectors such as healthcare, education, infrastructure development, and social welfare programs to alleviate the adverse impact of subsidy removal.

“The arbitrary nature of this subsidy removal sends a dangerous signal of potential dictatorship and a lack of openness and transparency in the conduct of government affairs. CSJ strongly emphasizes the importance of democratic values, including transparency, accountability, and public engagement, in all policy decisions.

“CSJ stands ready to engage with the government, relevant stakeholders, and civil society organizations to address these concerns and ensure that the removal of petrol subsidy is carried out in a just and equitable manner that prioritizes the welfare of the citizens”.