“Government is meant to serve people…protect the lives and property and welfare of the people; that federal aspect is part of the welfare.”
Senate President Ahmed Lawan has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC as a failure if they cannot stop fuel from being smuggled out of Nigeria, assuring Nigerians that fuel subsidy will not be removed for now, while lauding Mr Buhari for keeping the subsidy in place.
“It is a failure if we are not able to control it (petrol smuggling). This particular aspect of smuggling is the petrol and then in return, push the burden to the ordinary citizen,” Mr Lawan told State House correspondents after a meeting with the president on Tuesday in Abuja
The Senate president insisted that Mr Buhari focus on reducing the harsh economic burden on Nigerians instead of adding to it.
“Government is meant to serve people. The essence of government law, we all know, is to protect the lives and property and welfare of the people; that federal aspect is part of the welfare,” he explained. “It may not be exactly the way we want it in the implementation of subsidy. But that is our challenge as an administration and as a government.”
He further disclosed that “I’m happy to inform Nigerians that Mr President never told anyone” to remove the subsidy should be removed.
Mr Lawan also admitted that “the subsidy is very heavy,” but disagreed that because of the failure of Mr Buhari’s regime to rein in the smuggling of the product, Nigerians should bear the burden.
“I think we must never transfer the burden to the citizens. I believe that we need to look at the quoted figure of maybe 100 million litres that people claim we’re consuming. Is it real?” he added.
Mr Lawan said he discussed with Mr Buhari because many Nigerians are clamouring against removing the fuel subsidy.
“Well, it will be of interest to Nigerians to hear what I’ve come to discuss with Mr President, among several other things. Many of us are very concerned with the recent agitations and protests,” disclosed the Senate president. “Many citizens were so concerned; our constituents across the country are very concerned that the federal government will remove the petroleum subsidy.”
He further mentioned that Nigerian lawmakers were concerned about citizens’ anxiety over the subsidy removal.
“We felt the pulse of our people. I found it necessary to visit Mr President, as the leader of our government and our leader in the country, to discuss this particular issue of concern to Nigerians,” he stressed.
Mr Lawan insisted Nigerians could not use 100 million litres of petrol a day.
“Because I am not convinced that within the boundaries of Nigeria, we are consuming 100 million litres a day. Probably neighbouring countries may be benefiting from this. Can’t we do something about it?” the senator reasoned.
On recent remarks by some state governors, calling for immediate removal of the fuel subsidy, Mr Lawan said, “Well, that’s their opinion. And they had their time. They should have done something about it. Now we have to do something about it.”