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Subsidy removal marks freedom of the masses — APC scribe

The All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government recently deregulated (partial) the down stream oil sector, contrary to its campaign promises ahead of the 2015 elections. In this interview, the national secretary of the party, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, said threats by the organised labour against the new decision will fail because the masses are with President Muhammadu Buhari.  Excerpts:

The administration caught Nigerians unawares with the removal of subsidy on petrol. Don’t you think the masses will protest?
Two issues are involved here. One, some people have a misconception of the subsidy removal. Secondly, there is a deliberate mischief to mislead Nigerians, by beneficiaries of the corrupt and abused subsidy regime. The subsidy was intended to provide adequate supply of petrol at relatively low rate to Nigerians. Government took the burden of paying billions of dollars to achieve this. However, over the years, a very infinitesimal group of Nigerians abused this good intention and converted the whole process into an epicenter of corruption. Government was forced to pay subsidy for products not supplied, and the little supplied were hoarded, diverted and smuggled out of Nigeria, leaving Nigerians with long queues at petrol stations. Over 60% of the citizenry living outside the urban cities pay as much as N200 and above per litre. Now, the implication is that government loses billions in payment of non-existing supplies, instead of using the same money in building roads, schools and hospitals for the masses.
Don’t you think Nigerians would feel betrayed by the action?
Nigerians have no doubt that the money to be saved will be safe under the Buhari-led government. They know that the proceeds will be effectively used to execute development projects. To buttress my point, since the removal of the subsidy, more than 80 per cent of the poor are not complaining and fuel queues have disappeared. You now buy the product at the same price all over the country. On the average, prices of goods and services have remained stable. On the other hand, it also means that the problems of hoarding, diversion and smuggling shall be eased. Again, the removal of subsidy will spur competition among marketers with additional advantage of creating enabling environment for establishment of refineries by investors.
The organised labour unions are threatening nationwide strike on Wednesday. Are you not disturbed?
I want them to sincerely gauge the mood of ordinary Nigerians before embarking on any strike. I strongly feel the strike will not be a popular move. The subsidy regime betrayed the poor. Let me say with all sense of commitment, that if people of goodwill understand the import of this sensitive, bold and courageous decision taken by the Buhari-led administration, we would all appreciate government and celebrate the blockage of a huge leakage.
There were unsuccessful attempts by previous governments to remove the subsidy. What, in your opinion, will make this attempt work?
There are quite a number of reasons that will make it work this time. The commitment of this administration in the fight against corruption is not in doubt. Indeed, it is incomparable to any other government. Therefore, Buhari’s administration, as we all know, is committed to wiping the tears of the common man.  The political will by all actors in this government to make this work for the benefit of Nigerians and, indeed, the future generation is glaring. The sensitivity of the APC-led administration to the plight of the citizenry is real and undiluted. Nigeria, under this administration, will not tolerate exploitation of the people through abuse and betrayal by a few cliques at the expense of the majority. Therefore, it is important to draw the attention of Nigerians, especially trade unions, to appreciate, cooperate and encourage government to succeed in this direction. We should give a chance to this bold step to change our destiny for the better. Quote me, petrol would be sold far less than N145 per litre soon.
Should we say the subsidy removal is APCs one year gift for the masses?
Thank you very much. The removal actually means freedom for the masses from exploitative tendencies. For the past one year, this regime tirelessly battled corruption and tried to retrieve national wealth stolen by public officers. It was in the course of this fight that Nigerians were made aware of the damage and large scale looting of the treasury. And that is why they look at every decision taken in good light. The love between corruption and its perpetrators compromised everything, including security to lives and property, which was the basis of governance in any society. Of course, we have delivered so much in the last one year. It is no longer news the discovery of the unholy diversion of funds meant for purchase of arms and equipment, which cost the country many lives of civilians and security personnel. Boko Haram insurgency became protracted and unbeatable due to corrupt practices. However, everybody can attest to the fact that the terror group has been decimated by our gallant troops. 
It is also a known fact that Nigeria suffered infrastructural decay, in spite of huge resources claimed to have been injected in electricity/power supply, refineries/fuel supply, roads, healthcare, education, etc. Now, in just one year, the Buhari-led administration has made strong effort to uproot the monster from the system. This administration has successfully retrieved massive wealth stolen from the national treasury. This is enough to showcase to Nigerians because there is a clear sense of direction. Similarly, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), initiated by the former regime to fight corruption, was never implemented due to lack of political will. President Buhari courageously implemented it and the results are fantastic, saving over N3 trillion of public funds. The BVN and IPPIS, which were adopted by government is said to have uncovered about 40,000 ghost workers, thereby saving a lot of resources. It is also evident that Nigeria now has efficient and transparent agencies responsible for revenue generation. There is, indeed, improvement in fiscal discipline and prudent management of resources in government. It may interest you to note that the United Nations has proudly identified with President Muhammadu Buhari on the fight against corruption and the successes achieved. Mr Yury Fedotov, the secretary, UN Office on Drugs and Crimes, recently, revealed that the UN will commit $100 million in the fight against corruption and terrorism in Nigeria. Another remarkable area of achievement is Nigeria’s image and diplomatic relationship with the international community. President Buhari took over a country with fractured image and battered diplomatic relationships. It was difficult for Nigeria to conduct business with the international community while foreign investors had abandoned the country. After one year, it is gratifying to see that from Europe to America, Asia and Africa, everyone is giving Nigeria a thumbs up.

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