Prof Itse Sagay, a distinguished Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has voiced his opinion that President Bola Tinubu should have postponed the removal of the petrol subsidy for six months following his inauguration. During an appearance on Channels Television’s Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, Sagay critiqued the immediate elimination of the subsidy in President Tinubu’s inaugural address on May 29, 2023, precipitating severe economic strain.
Sagay, who led the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) between 2015 and 2023, suggested that the government should have awaited the start of domestic petrol production before making such a decisive move. He highlighted the critical role of petrol in everyday life and the resultant spike in the cost of living due to the subsidy’s abrupt removal. “The cost of living is going up, and basic living is now expensive,” Sagay remarked, indicating that a gradual approach might have mitigated the harsh impact of this policy shift.
The senior lawyer also touched on the recent commencement of petrol production by Dangote and the nearing completion of the Port Harcourt refinery, suggesting that a delay in subsidy removal could have eased the transition. Despite the current challenges, Sagay expressed confidence in the new administration’s capability to navigate the country through these difficulties, emphasising the need to halt the naira’s devaluation. “I never dreamt there would be a time when the dollar would change from over N1,000 to a dollar. It has to stop,” he stated, underscoring the urgency of stabilising the Nigerian currency.
While acknowledging the hardships imposed by the subsidy removal, Sagay reaffirmed his faith in the government’s leadership and its potential to alleviate the pressures Nigerians face, envisioning a future where hardship diminishes, and the nation finds itself in a stronger position.
The recent comments by Prof Itse Sagay on the timing of the petrol subsidy removal by President Bola Tinubu bring to light the delicate balance between economic reform and societal welfare. Sagay’s perspective underscores a critical viewpoint that policy shifts, especially those with widespread socio-economic implications, require strategic timing and consideration of the broader production and economic landscape.
The abrupt removal of the petrol subsidy has undeniably thrust the Nigerian populace into an increased financial burden, highlighting the essential nature of petrol in Nigerians’ daily lives and economic activities. This situation calls for a reflection on the approach to policy implementation, advocating for a phased and more considerate strategy that aligns with domestic capabilities and minimises public hardship.
Sagay’s concerns about the naira’s depreciation resonate with a broader anxiety about Nigeria’s economic stability. The call to action is clear: measures are urgently needed to stabilise the currency and foster an environment conducive to sustainable growth and development.
The government’s response to these critiques and subsequent actions will be pivotal as we navigate these challenging times. The emphasis on the internal production of petrol, alongside efforts to stabilise the economy, presents a pathway to reducing import dependency and strengthening Nigeria’s economic sovereignty.
In solidarity with Sagay’s optimism, we believe in the potential for recovery and improvement. The government must carefully consider the timing and impact of its policies, ensuring that the path to reform is both progressive and compassionate, ultimately leading to a more resilient and prosperous Nigeria.
Did You Know?
- Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, yet it has historically imported a significant portion of its refined petrol due to under-capacity and operational challenges in its refineries.
- The petrol subsidy has been a contentious issue in Nigeria for years, with debates centred around its economic sustainability and impact on government spending.
- Dangote Refinery, owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is set to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries, potentially transforming Nigeria’s petroleum sector.
- The devaluation of the naira has significant implications for Nigeria’s economy, affecting everything from inflation rates to the cost of imported goods.
- The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) was established to advise the Nigerian government on prosecuting the war against corruption and implementing necessary reforms in the country’s criminal justice system.