Contrary to the hoax by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that his administration earmarked N500 billion exclusively for palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal, findings have shown that the funds will be spent on a host of other projects.
According to the amended 2022 supplementary budget exclusively obtained by SecretReporters, the N500 billion is for “palliatives, capital, and other expenses.”
The budget did not state how much will be spent on the palliatives to cushion the untold hardship that the fuel subsidy removal has orchestrated. It also did not state the percentage splashed on capital and other expenses.
Recall that in a speedy move that came under public backlash, the Senate at plenary on Thursday, July 13, 2023, approved President Tinubu’s request for an N500 billion palliative to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
The National Assembly approved the sum after amending the 2022 supplementary Appropriation Act to accommodate N500 billion for provisions of palliatives for Nigerians, following the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government.
During the plenary session, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, read the letter on the floor of the apex legislative Assembly and thereafter amended its rules to consider and approve the request the same day.
Tinubu, whose reign as President is being contested in the court of law by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, had, in the letter, clarified that the request became imperative, to enable the government to provide palliatives for Nigerians to cushion the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy.
The letter reads, “I write to request for the amendment of the 2022 supplementary appropriation act. The request became necessary, among other things, to source funds to provide necessary palliatives to mitigate the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy on Nigerians.
“Thus, the sum of N500 billion only has been extracted from the 2022 supplementary appropriation act of N819 billion, 536 million, 937 thousand 803 naira only for the provisions of palliatives for Nigerians to cushion the effects of subsidy removal”.
The President enjoined the Senate to give his request “expeditious” consideration and approval to enable his administration to provide palliatives for Nigerians.
It could be recalled that President Tinubu, during his inaugural speech as the new President of Nigeria on May 29, 2023, announced the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said, “Subsidy has gone; subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs due to drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, healthcare, and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions”.
The letter did not contain the details of the palliatives to be provided. However, Tinubu had disclosed that the federal government would transfer the sum of N8,000 per month to 12 million low-income households, a highly criticized decision by stakeholders and has been rescinded by the President.
A statement by Dele Alake, the spokesperson to the President, read in part, “Tinubu disclosed the plan for a monthly N8,000 transfer to 12 million households over six months, aiming to mitigate the effects of fuel subsidy removal. However, following public feedback and sentiments expressed by Nigerians, the President decided to reevaluate the program and present the entire palliative package to the Nigerian people.
“The President’s directive reflects his commitment to responsiveness and ensuring that government interventions align with the needs and expectations of t he citizens. In light of this, President Tinubu also ordered the immediate release of fertilizers and grains to 50 million farmers and households nationwide, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“With the palliative program under review and additional support for farmers and households in the pipeline, Nigerians anticipate measures that will alleviate economic pressures and improve their overall well-being. As the government fine-tunes its approach, it is expected that the final outcome will strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and providing meaningful assistance to those in need”.