Prof Sagay stressed that Tinubu should have waited for the commencement of crude oil refining locally before removing the subsidy on petrol products.
Prof Itse Sagay, a former adviser to former President Muhammadu Buhari on corruption, has faulted President Bola Tinubu for removing the petrol subsidy on his first day in office.
Recall that Tinubu announced during his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, that “subsidy is gone.” Justifying the decision, the President said the Federal Government could no longer afford to bear the subsidy costs due to meagre resources at its disposal.
The policy led to an instant astronomical increase in pump price from ₦180 to over ₦600.
However, speaking as a guest on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, aired on Channels Television on Friday, February 9, 2024, Sagay opined that Tinubu should have waited six months after his inauguration before removing the subsidy on petrol.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) stressed that the President should have tarried a while and allowed crude oil refining to commence locally before ending the fuel subsidy regime.
“Petrol is critical to our lives. The cost of living is going up, and basic living is now expensive. I think we might have gone on for another six months and as internal production was coming up, then the subsidy can be removed,” he said.
Sagay, who chaired the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) from 2015 to 2023, added, “The immediacy and the sudden manner of the decision to remove petrol subsidy has created an immediate level of hardship, which is almost becoming unbearable.
“I am not in full agreement with the way and order some of the things are being done now. On the issue of petrol, I would have been happier if the government had been patient to allow internal production to commence before removing the subsidy.
“Now, Dangote is now producing. And of course, the refinery in Port Harcourt is almost ready. Perhaps, if we had waited a little longer, the transition will not have been harsh. We are in it already but I think we are in competent hands and we will get out of it.
“We’ve been on this subsidy for decades and a few more months would not have killed us. You can see the difference in lifestyle now,” he stated.
Commenting on the declining fortunes of the naira, the respected lawyer advocated for a stop to the deterioration of the nation’s currency, confessing that he never envisaged that the naira would be as worthless as currently is.
“I never dreamt that there would be a time when the dollar would change for over N1,000 to a dollar. It has to stop, otherwise, it will destroy everything that the government is trying to do.”
However, Sagay remained confident in the ability of the current government to steer the country in the desired direction.
“They are people who know what they are doing. I have faith in them and I believe that as time goes on, the pressure on Nigerians will ease, hardship will decrease and we will be in a much better position than we are in now,” he added.