•As Lawan tells labour to shelve planned protests as it is no longer necessary

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva has said that the Federal Government has ruled out the planned removal of fuel subsidy for now.

Speaking at a meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector at the instance of the President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan on Monday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, Sylva said that the timing for removal of fuel subsidy is wrong.

Sylva who said there is need to dialogue with the National Assembly noted that the issue of fuel subsidy is a legislative one since the 2022 Appropriation Act provides for subsidy up to June this year, implying that there would not be subsidy from July this year.


He stressed that the only option according to him is for the National Assembly to revisit the Appropriation Act with the view to amending it to provide for subsidy beyond June 2022, adding that “law is no cast in iron”.

“It is a legislative responsibility now to see what can be done in extending that time frame for it to be in the purview of the law, secondly the other legislative issue arising from it is the provision for the subsidy that is not there after June”. Sylva said

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan earlier laid the foundation for the meeting when he recalled his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the possible removal of petroleum subsidy.

“There is need at one point to do away with subsidy but the President genuinely feel for Nigerians particularly the most vulnerable. Even though our economy is growing but we still have challenge getting better.”

“Because of this feeling by the President and most of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care especially that sufficient planning needs to be done to provide necessary parliatives.”

Senator Lawan also disclosed that the shelving of fuel subsidy removal is not about the proposed protest by Labour unions but for the interest of ordinary Nigerians.

The Senate President however appealed to the organized Labour unions to shelve their planned protest.

“I am taking this opportunity to speak to TUC and NLC to shelve this their plan to go on strike or demonstration. It is totally unnecessary. There is not going to be removal of subsidy so let us not create unnecessary tension where there should be none.

Please forget about the 27th of January deadline. We are supposed to come together and work assiduously to see that our country is stable that our people enjoy the benefits of Government programs and projects. At the end of the day whatever decision we would be taking would be in the best interest of our people”.

Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab, in her remarks, said that the Federal Government made provisions for subsidy in the 2022 budget from January to June this year.

According to her, all payments on fuel subsidy ordinarily would cease as from July, 2022.

She observed that in view of the timing which is “problematic”, the Federal decided to suspend its plan to go ahead with the removal of subsidy on petroleum products in July, particularly against the backdrop of outcomes from ongoing consultations.

She added that the Federal Government is presently exploring alternatives to premium motor spirit as well as pushing to step-up the country’s crude oil refining capacity.

Ahmed disclosed that efforts are also underway by the Executive arm of government to forward a request to the National Assembly to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July this year till a time deemed appropriate for its eventual removal.

“Let me start by stating the fact that we did make a provision in the 2022 budget for fuel subsidy from January to June. And that suggests that from July there would be no fuel subsidy.

“This provision was made sequel to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act that has made a provision that all products will be deregulated.

“Subsequent to the passage of the Act, we went back an amended the Fiscal Framework that was submitted to the National Assembly to incorporate this demand, but after the budget was passed we have had consultations with a number of stakeholders.

“It became clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation, and also removal of subsidy will further worsen the situation, thereby, imposing more difficulties on the citizens, and Mr. President clearly does not want to do that.

“What we have to do now is to continue with the discussions we are making, in terms of putting in place a number of measures, one of which is the deployment of an alternative to the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and also the roll out of enhanced refining capacity in the country, including the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery and also the rehabilitation of the four national refineries that have a combined capacity of 450,000 barrels per day.

“The increased refining capacity in the country means we will need to import less products. But also as we are discussing right now within the Executive the possibility of amending the budget, we may need to come back to the National Assembly by way of amendment to make additional provision for fuel subsidy from July, 2022, going forward, or to whatever period that is agreed as the right time.

“Also, while we are exploring ways and means through discussion with various stakeholders in the executive as well as the Civil Societies and Labour Unions to explore ways by which we can address this removal in a manner that is graduated and will have as minimal impact on the citizens as possible.

“So, we will come back to make further amendments on the fiscal framework as well as in the 2022 budget.”

Those at the meeting include the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi and the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

Also present were the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authourity, Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and Commissioned Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe.

Others are the Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Habib Nuhu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Shehu Shinkafi, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.

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