President Goodluck Jonathan’s “closed-door” meeting with selected members of the national assembly to look at the whole issue of oil subsidy removal, may have ended without making any headway, according to local media reports.
The reports said Senate President, David Mark, led the lawmakers, alongside Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, chairmen of committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, to the meeting with the president at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
They said the closed-door meeting provided a platform for members of the National Assembly to discuss issues of governance, security, fuel subsidy removal, balancing the budget and how to make “sure that government works for the benefit of the people”.
Although no communiqué was issued on the outcome of the meeting, the lawmakers insisted that the executive must have a rethink over the proposed removal of oil subsidy, making it “abundantly clear that removing the subsidy this time when things appear hard is not the best thing to do”.
However, it was also learnt that the executive delegation, which also included Head of the Economic Management Team and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, among others, strenuously explained the imperative of removing the subsidy, saying the economy would bleed further “if it is not removed now.”
But the president’s bid to convince National Assembly members to support the removal of fuel subsidy – which is expected to gulp about 1.5 trillion naira (US$ 1 = 150 naira) this year alone – failed at first attempt Wednesday.
On security, the lawmakers and the executive agreed that more work need to be done and jointly agreed to explore ways of tackling the matter.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian presidency has promised that the process of publishing names of members of the cartel that had sabotaged the country’s oil sector is ongoing.
According to the presidency, the publication had to be comprehensive for the citizens to know the people who engaged in sharp practices in the sector and in acts, including allowing the oil to illegally cross the borders.
The media reports quoted the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, as disclosing this while defending moves to remove fuel subsidy at a news conference in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
According to the reports, Gulak had said “if Nigerians know what oil subsidy removal means, they will hail the president on this policy. The president is coming with comprehensive palliative measures and fuel subsidy removal was integrated in the stable economy promised by the president.”