Tinubu and How Not to Make Pronouncements

During his inaugural speech as the 16th President of Nigeria, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, pronounced that “Fuel subsidy is gone”.

Although it was expected that the incoming government was going to stop fuel subsidy, not many expected it to come the way it did. For instance, many expected certain things to be done before withdrawing oil subsidy; things like refurbishing the nation’s moribund refineries and emplacing measures to cushion the effects of such removal or withdrawal.

But Tinubu just proclaimed that the subsidy had been removed

It was a pronouncement that immediately set the nation on fire. Same day, fuel prices began to shoot up and in little over two days, long queues had appeared at many filling stations across the country.

Worse still, the prices jumped above the reach of the common man, further impoverishing the long suffering Nigerian masses. Although Tinubu later recanted on his statement, it was already too late.

It is clear that a little more tact on the side of Tinubu would have saved the nation this situation. Now, many Nigerians are gnashing their teeth as they try to get the commodity which has become very scarce in some states.

But beyond the proclamation by Tinubu and its after effects, it beats the imagination that Nigeria, a country that has its own refineries, had allowed them to go to seed, while an individual, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, just built his own private petroleum refinery. The outgone president, Muhammadu Buhari, even made a great show of commissioning it, even though it was not yet completed. Nothing could have been more absurd.

There’s now this talk that the rush to commission the Dangote Refinery, apart from the political angle of pushing it as part of his achievements, lies the other aspect of people in government having personal stakes in the refinery and thus, not willing to refurbish the moribund ones. This is part of the corruption that has eaten deep into the country’s fabric and that, indeed, is a big shame.

Although almost all the presidential candidates in the last election had sanctioned the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, this is nothing that should be done hurriedly in order not to overburden Nigerians. Tinubu should therefore ensure that adequate steps are taken to emplace measures that will cushion the effects of the withdrawal before finally stopping the subsidy.

At the same time, even though the nation eagerly awaits the commencement of operations at Dangote Refinery, the government should, as a matter of urgency, refurbish all the moribund refineries as we cannot as a nation depend on a private refinery. We have had enough of this hypocrisy.