President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, says the decision to suspend the removal of fuel subsidy is not far from the forthcoming general elections.
He stated this on Monday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, hours after the government said it would postpone the removal of fuel subsidy earlier scheduled to commence in June.
“The subsidy issue is a hot potato for any government, particularly in this part of the world,” the NBA president said.
“I would have loved to think that the decision to suspend [fuel subsidy], I would have wanted to believe it is because the government cares so much about the people, and it is a government that is listening to the cries of the people, because indeed, as the minister of finance mentioned, it would be really tough if subsidy removal is implemented at this time with all of the other supervening circumstances.”
Amid outcry by labour unions and other stakeholders in the country, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the government was reconsidering its June deadline.
She stated that fuel subsidy was provided for in the 2022 budget to run from January till June, but after consultations with stakeholders and in view of the high inflation and economic hardship, additional provisions would be made beyond the initial period.
According to the minister, it has become clear that the timing for the removal of fuel subsidy will be problematic as the country still experiences high inflation.
But Akpata has a contrary opinion to the reasons given by the minister, stressing that the government made a U-turn because of the coming elections.
“The strategists (of the government) would probably have sat down to think about it and they have told those who they advise that it would be political hara-kiri; it would be suicidal at this point in time to take out subsidy going into an election, which is just around the corner,” he stated.
“This is what I think because those kinds of hard decisions, I don’t think are the kind of decisions you want to take going into an election. Those are my thoughts.”