Presidency tackles Atiku over N5.4trn subsidy comment

The Presidency Thursday said two fiscal policy documents in circulation and given wider coverage by the mainstream media and social media platforms were not official.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said this in a statement issued in Abuja.

He said one of the documents titled: “Inflation Reduction and Price Stability (Fiscal Policy Measure etc) Order 2024” was being shared as if it was an executive order signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The presidential spokesman said the second one is a 65-page draft document with the title, “Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP), which contains suggestions on how to improve the Nigerian economy.”

The Presidency’s clarification came on the heel of the comment by the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 poll,  Atiku Abubakar, over the payment of the fuel subsidy.

Writing on his X Wednesday, the former VP expressed concern that the government was still supporting downstream consumption.

…What Atiku said

“President Bola Tinubu, at his inauguration on May 29, 2023, announced the abolishment of the subsidy on PMS, popularly known as fuel. Ever since it has been a bragging right of Tinubu and officials of his administration. I had in my statement reviewing the one year of the Bola Tinubu administration urged the government to come clean on the actual position of the subsidy policy.

“If the subsidy regime had been characterised by opaqueness, what would we say of a situation where the subsidy is still being paid under the cover without Nigerians in the know? Like millions of Nigerians, I was shocked to learn through media reports that the “government is still supporting downstream consumption,” Atiku had said.

 “Now we know that expenditure on fuel subsidy may reach N5.4 trillion in 2024, compared to the N3.6 trillion spent in 2023, the same year that Tinubu claimed to have abolished fuel subsidy, I wish to restate that Nigeria is not working, and what we have had in a little over a year is a cocktail of trial-and-error economic policies. Paying subsidies and lying about it is nothing to brag about. Nigerians deserve better than this deception,” added the former VP.

…Onanuga clarifies

Clarifying this in a statement, Onanuga said  a copy of the draft was received by President Tinubu on Tuesday.

He said: “We urge the public and the media to disregard the two documents and cease further discussions on them. None is an approved official document of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“They are all policy proposals that are still subject to reviews at the highest level of government. Indeed, one has ‘draft’ clearly written on it.”

Quoting the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, Onanuga said: “It is important to understand that policymaking is an iterative process involving multiple drafts and discussions before any document is finalised.

“We assure the public that the official position on the documents will be made available after comprehensive reviews and approvals are completed.”

Edun also said emanating from the two documents were  reports speculating  government’s policy on customs tariffs, fuel subsidy and other economic matters.

“The government wants to restate that its position on fuel subsidy has not changed from what President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared on 29 May 2023.

“The fuel subsidy regime has ended. There is no N5.4 trillion being provisioned for it in 2024, as being widely speculated and discussed,” Edun stated.

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