Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party has stated that Nigeria’s fuel subsidy removal is inevitable, but has to be accomplished through negotiations with organized labour.
Atiku disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Arise Television on Friday morning, stating that he wants a lean government through an “e-government” service delivery operation.
He also hinted that Nigeria’s fiscal issue is both revenue and debt problem, which can be approached through restructuring, but warned Nigeria has lost the capacity for debt forgiveness.
What Atiku is saying
Atiku stated that Nigerians have now come to accept his position on subsidy removal. He said, “Recall when I was Vice President, we had designed removal in four stages and I was chairman of removal committee, I worked with Adams Oshiomole as organized labour leader.”
He said, “We removed subsidy in phases one and two. By the time we finished phase two, we had left office, and expected the next PDP government to finish, but unfortunately, the policy got stuck.
“It is inevitable but has to happen. It has to be accomplished through negotiations with organized labour and other sectors of the economy. That policy should resume.”
On the fiscal side, he warned that “Nigeria has both a debt and revenue problem”
“This issue of the debt problem, we can approach through restructuring, unfortunately, we don’t have any skill for debt forgiveness.
“But for sure, we have to deal with these two issues, because we are going to inherit a government that is deeply indebted, but has not expanded revenue base, debt and revenue very key,” he said.
On infrastructure, he said “We (PDP) had started it, through most of the reforms, which I initiated under privatization council as VP, whereby we can give the private sector more, as far as building more rail lines, and building more roads, by giving them tax incentives, otherwise where are we going to get the money from?
On electricity, he said, the PDP in 1999 inherited a total generation of 4000mw and initiated the building of 9 new power stations, which raised capacity to 13000mw, and there has been no corresponding increase in transmission lines. He added the 9 power stations were completed by Goodluck Jonathan.
“I believe it is something that as a country, we can diversify our generation so that even with current transmission lines, we can deliver power to households. It’s a question of reviewing the policy.”
On reducing government costs, he said “I want to rationalise the agencies. There are too many with duplicate responsibilities. I also want to introduce ” e- government”, which eliminates a lot in terms of contact. I know it is not popular,” but I will do it.”
What you should know
Nairametrics recently reported that Nigeria spends 118% of revenue on debt service, as debt service gulped the sum of N1.94 trillion between January to April 2022 against a revenue of N1.63 trillion
The FG also cited that a total sum of N1.63 trillion was earned which accounted for only 49% of the prorated target of N3.32 trillion, and significantly lower that the projected revenue of N9.97 trillion for the entire year.
The Nigerian Government also estimated that its petrol subsidy payment for full year 2023 could rise to N6.72 trillion.
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