Following the criticism over recent hike in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from N138 to N151.56 by the Federal Government, the presidency has praised the ‘courage’ of President Muhammadu Buhari in removing fuel subsidy, noting that history will be kind to him for embarking on both popular and unpopular reforms.
The hike in PMS pump price had led to marketers adjusting to N162 per litre, even as many Nigerians have continued to criticize the government over the hike.
But the presidency in a statement Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on media and publicity, noted that history would be kind to Buhari because he would go down in history as a leader who contributed to the economy by eliminating petrol subsidy.
“There .is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good,” he said.
“As President Muhammadu Buhari takes these difficult decisions, both popular and unpopular and as a leader because he is demonstrating the right courage to take such decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.
“History will be kind to President Buhari because in addition to his amazing ability to command votes, he will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating the evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.”
Shehu said Buhari had taken a bold step in the overall interest of Nigerians and appealed for understanding of citizens including members of the opposition.
According to him, Buhari was pushing development goals in this challenging moment, insisted that contrary to insinuations by the opposition, history would be fair to him.
“President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as these ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups.
“In these challenging times, the President is pushing development goals not politics and history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the opposition,” the statement added.
The presidential spokesman said even though the administration of Buhari had worked hard to meet the high expectations of the people on it, there are yet needs to take tough decisions that can put the country on track.
It further said successive administrations had pushed for subsidy removal with a view to halting the mismanagement of the country’s resources but the courage to push it through was not there.
“The administration has worked hard to meet many expectations, but still, there are certain tough decisions which had to be taken to put back the country on the path of sustainable development.
“To stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others, the administration took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices.
“Subsidy removal in these sectors had long been foreseen by successive administrations as game changers in search of solutions to move forward with the nation’s development.
“These are reforms that are necessary and overdue. Blueprint upon blueprint, timeline upon timeline had come and gone but courage to take bold decisions was not there.
“Over the last few days, one claim acquiring a potent resonance with the online community, sections of the labour movement and the opposition is that the actions are ill-timed and ill-advised”