Former Lagos State governor and leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Frisday advocated for the immediate removal of fuel subsidy, declaring it as a device for crooks to enrich themselves.
In a key note address presented at a memorial lecture in honour of late radical university don, Dr. Bala Usman, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT) at Arewa House, Kaduna, yesterday, Tinubu said although the idea of fuel subsidy was good, he regretted that the system had been perverted and no longer beneficial to the masses who it was meant for.
“I must add a thought about the fuel subsidy. It was a good idea that has been perverted into its opposite.
“Created to aid the common man, it is now a device used by the crooked to produce a windfall for themselves. In a perfect world, I wish we could sanitise the subsidy regime and thus continue it.
“However, I have reached the conclusion that there are too many demons in the system for that hell to be turned into heaven. Better that we remove it, not for the austere purpose of saving money but to use the money more wisely that we might better save the people” the APC leader said.
Continuing, Tinubu said “Let us begin a process of a thoughtful but decisive subsidy phase-out. While this is occurring, we should simultaneously phase in social programs benefiting the poorest, most vulnerable among us”.
According to him, programmes such as transportation subsidies, school feeding, improved basic medical care and coverage for the poor, and potable water projects are some of the things that can be done with the same funds.
“This way, we can undertake this massive expenditure confident that the fruits will go to the hungry, not the already too well fed. End the fuel subsidy. Subsidise the people instead – Subsidise the people instead”, he emphasised.
He said Nigeria needs economic liberation, pointing out however that before that could happen, “we must free ourselves of the economic myths consigning us to our current predicament.”
He maintained that Nigeria desired a new paradigm in view of the harsh realities of dwindling national revenue occasioned by crashing oil prices, saddled with collapsed infrastructure and an abuse and wary citizenry.
Tinubu stated further that in spite of the struggle that brought about change, some politicians were yet to change their ways.
According to him, “while we have put forth a new government, too many of us who should be allied in changing the prospects of this nation have not put forth a new politics.
“They remain mired in the broken ways of yesterday, placing every conceivable personal interest above the national concern.
He described the late Dr. Bala Usman as an accomplished scholar, who devoted his intellectual prowess to the advancement of Nigeria and urged those who consider themselves his students to emulate him.
“You see, Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman was an intellectual not for the sake of intellectualism. He was an intellectual because he understood knowledge was the most vital weapon a besieged nation and its people could acquire…..
“His love of people and wisdom led him to see that the economy we were given was not the economy intended for us. We had become the victims of an unfair economic architecture arising from an unjust history”, Tinubu said.
Also speaking, the governors of Kaduna, Katsina and Osun states said the late university don was a visionary who inspired those who studied under him at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. -Thisday