2 January 2019

Nigeria: 2019 - Again Peter Obi Defends Petrol Subsidy Removal, Says Nigerians Will Benefit More

The vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, has again condemned the petrol subsidy policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Mr Obi who spoke on Channels TV programme tagged: "Politics Today" on Tuesday said a "serious government" would rather divert the funds used for petrol subsidy to the provision of education and health care services for citizens.

"Go and check the just presented 2019 budget: health is N341 billion and education is about N450 billion. So, if you put health and education which is the most critical component of the development of any economy together, it is N800 billion.

"So, when you are paying over a trillion in subsidy. It is unacceptable. I have said it categorically, we are paying for inefficiency," he said.

Mr Obi's mention of "a trillion" appears to be a reference to cumulative spending by the Buhari administration on petrol subsidy since its assumption of office. President Buhari last month proposed N305 billion as petrol subsidy in the 2019 budget.

Mr Obi took a similar stance on the removal of petrol subsidy during the vice presidential debate. While he called for the immediate removal of the subsidy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo agreed the subsidy should be removed, but not now.

Mr Osinbajo argued that removing the subsidy now would lead to an increase in fuel price that would make life uncomfortable for many Nigerians.

On Tuesday, Mr Obi admitted that removal of subsidy may lead to an initial price increase; but said the price would eventually stabilise.

"If you remove it (subsidy), I can assure you that within a year of efficient management of that process, the price would be what it is today if not less," he said.

"Part of what we are paying today is the demurrage they pay at the ports. If a vessel comes into our ports to discharge, it takes weeks.

"If they have to pay more temporarily, it would come down. When we were talking about the telephone, for example, we know where it started.

"Today, it is almost free. Of course, when you start it, it might be a little more. But if you follow it through and do the proper thing, I can convince you the price will come down. What we are paying today is for inefficiency, period. It is like that in everything."

From left: Umar Gesto of Young Progressives Party (YPP); Peter Obi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Yemi Osinbajo of All Progressives Congress (APC); Khadija Abdullahi of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); and Ganiyu Galadima of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), during the 2018 Vice Presidential Debate organise by Nigeria Election Debates Group in Abuja on Friday (14/12/18) 06665/14/12/2018/Hogan Bassey/BJO/NAN

Mr Obi, former governor of Anambra State, made reference to the poor management of the ports as one of the reasons for the high cost of petrol, most of which is imported into Nigeria.

"So, a trailer that will charge you to bring out your goods from Apapa Port, instead of charging you N200,000 will charge you almost a million because it takes him two weeks to go in and about a week to come out. For three years, we couldn't even clear out trailers from Apapa port to Ikorodu. It doesn't make sense."

Mr Obi boasted that if his party wins the 2019 election, he would tackle government inefficiency alongside his principal, Atiku Abubakar.

The former governor and Mr Abubakar are the major opposition candidates to the President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Osinbajo of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The presidential election holds on February 16.

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