Says governors pushed for the policy
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has denied being the brain behind the fuel subsidy removal policy which led to a nationwide strike and protests.
In an interview with BBC, Okonjo-Iweala laid the idea at the foot of governors, who she said had been pushing for the fuel subsidy removal even before she joined the Jonathan-led administration. She also denied claims that the World Bank and IMF influenced the government’s decision, saying they “have nothing to do with this, absolutely nothing!”
“This is an internal government decision and President Jonathan has made it very clear. Remember, six months before I came, the governors have all pushed for subsidy removal,” she said.
“Subsidy removal has two decades of history, almost every government from Babangida to Obasanjo has tried, so it is not Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.”
Sources say that the governors traded the subsidy removal policy with the government’s establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund which was established to mop up the excess crude funds which the governors shared with the federal government, monthly.
The director general of the Governors Forum, Ashishana Okauru, said although he does not “know who did what first”, the issue of fuel subsidy removal “has been on the table” at the governors’ forum.
He however denied that the governors made the decision in consideration for their support for the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, said that the removal of fuel subsidy would rescue the country’s economy from collapse.
“If you we don't support the President to remove oil subsidy, we will not even be able to buy clothes because the dollar will escalate to N250 per dollar,” he said.
“That is what the thing is going to. So, the President is not a wicked man, he is on a rescue mission. I will plead with labour to sympathise with both the governors and the President, even assume that we are bad people, for once trust us.”
Source: EMMANUEL OKUBENJI (Daily Times NG)