Tinubu calls for deregulation of fuel price, seeks progressive governance

A former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has stressed the need for market forces to determine the price of fuel, saying that the current fuel regime causes more problems than it solves.
Tinubu has also called for progressive governance, stressing that as a progressive, he believes that deep and impactful reforms should be implemented by creating more jobs, providing social policy initiatives and building infrastructure befitting a leading nation.
Delivering a paper at Daily Trust’s annual dialogue in Abuja yesterday, the APC national leader argued that the country must reform the current fuel subsidy regime.
According to him, the fuel subsidy regime at this stage causes more problems than it solves.
“Bottlenecks of long fuel queues, erratic supply, resultant economic dislocations for consumers from lack of fuel and the corrupt practices of trade insiders undermine the good intentions upon which the subsidy is based.
“Currently, the subsidy does not benefit the average person. It sweetly profits the elite who manipulate the programme to their own advantage. We need to allow market forces to more directly determine price.
“We need to open the now closed market to more suppliers. In this way, we may better harmonise supply and demand, where they do the most sustainable economic good,” he explained.
Tinubu, who was represented at the event by the former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Mr. Wale Edu, harped on the need for good governance, insisting that “social services must become a reality close at hand and not a vague dream lying in the distance”.
He also added that the country must fix its social safety net.
According to him, old people who have given so much to the nation were being shortchanged and forced to live in penury when they should be living in the dignity due their advanced years and their former labours.
He said despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s guidance to state governors to prioritise payment of salary arrears with the Paris Club refunds, clearing of salary arrears had still not been fully achieved, “although it has clearly taken on an importance not seen in prior governments”.
“Meanwhile, the issue of longstanding mounting arrears of pension payments and retirement benefits to public sector workers remains outstanding. The total figure is estimated in trillions,” he added.
“In short, the progressive governance we seek will open the door to affordable housing for the average family, consumer credit for those with steady employment, and the provision of basic welfare to our most vulnerable citizens,” Tinubu said.
He stated that progress has only been made in part in the past three years, adding that “advocates of the old ways have rebelled in full against even these partial blossoms of improvement”.
Tinubu, however, argued that smart, progressive governance could bring prosperity, tranquility and justice.
He acknowledged that Boko Haram might not be completely defeated but noted that it shall never rise again to be the existential threat it once was.
Tinubu also stated that Nigeria was facing its biggest structural problem in the form of an imbalanced economy and the poverty and misery it has caused.
Speaking on what he described as the terrible killings in Benue and Taraba States, Tinubu said the current crisis should be placed in proper context.
According to him, no one should pretend that this evil just suddenly appeared from nowhere, adding that Nigerians have been living and dying with this lethal situation for many years.
“The current hue and cry against these killings are hopefully a sign that we are maturing as a nation. That we shall no longer countenance the wanton destruction of human lives no matter the religion, ethnicity or origin of the victims or the villains.
“If so, maybe this nation is coming of age and none too soon. As such, this outcry is as welcome as it is overdue. We should have been agitating in this manner five, 10, 15 years ago. Lives would have been saved.
“For reasons I cannot completely fathom we have come late to the point of strong, collective outrage at this bloodletting. Yet, all in all, late is better than never in this regard,” the former governor observed.
He recommended that this spirit of compassion and care must be enshrined in the country’s political culture because it is integral to national greatness and democratic progress.
To address the challenges, Tinubu said the country must take prudent action.
According to him, for the federal government to do what past governments neglected to do, the country must forget our age-old prejudices in order to resolve this problem.
“At its essence, this crisis was not born of religious or ethnic hatred. It is about a shrinking amount of grass and water. In recent years the desert has expanded, consuming land once used to graze livestock.
“This pushed cattle herders farther and farther south to collide with the farmers who were there. Ecological peril spawned economic conflict which descended into violence,” he said.
He noted that the violence has taken on religious, ethnic and regional consequences because of the identities of the parties involved.
Tinubu also urged Nigerians to see the 2019 general election as political warfare to urgently take the country back from the rot.
According to Tinubu, “Ridding the nation of this rot is not a game. It is tantamount to moral as well as political warfare. Thus, we must not play with it.
“We must fight desperately as if the fate of the nation depends on the outcome. For our fate actually does depend on it.”
The former governor had in 2015 rallied the opposition at the time to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party-led government, after 16 years of rule.
Tinubu added that the battle waged during one election cycle was not enough, canvassing for the urgent need to take the country back from a group of elite who see the country as a game.
“Too many of us for too long have treated politics as a game open only to an elite, exclusive club of players. The nation and the people constituted the pitch upon which the game would be decided.
“This incorrect mind-set has misshaped our politics and injured the nation in ways mundane and profound,” he stated.
“Approaching nearly 60 years of independence, Nigeria remains a complex yet incomplete work of art, a project as much on the drawing board as it is our daily reality.
“For too many, Nigeria itself is a game. They are not wedded to the idea and ideals of Nigeria as a diverse and democratic but unified nation.
“They see the nation not as an object of loyalty but as the most available platform to realise their personal aims. In their minds, Nigeria is lesser than their ever-expanding ambitions. Because they view Nigeria as a game, their politics is but a game within a game.
“Instead of being a joyous nation, we have become a cruel playground where the fears and concerns of the average person get exploited but their interests never get promoted.”
Tinubu continued: “Here again, we must insist on politics having a nobler and larger goal than just registering certain people into the fraternity of officeholders.
“People must not only aspire and hold office; they must seek to govern prudently from that office. This is the challenge of 2019.”

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