Prof Itse Sagay, who was former President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointee and served as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) from 2015 to 2023, has said the Bola Tinubu administration should have waited for the commencement of petrol production locally before removing the subsidy.
Sagay noted that Tinubu should have waited for six months after his inauguration before removing petrol subsidy.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said this during an interview on Channels TV on Friday, adding that the sudden manner in which the President removed petrol subsidy in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, created untold hardship.
Sagay, the Chairman of PACAC from 2015 to 2023, said the Tinubu administration should have waited for the commencement of petrol production locally before yanking off subsidy on the premium commodity.
“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.
Continuing, Sagay said, “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.”
Sagay also said there must be a stop to the “deterioration of the value of the naira”. He said, “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.”
The senior lawyer, however, expressed confidence in the new government and its ability to provide quality leadership for the Nigerian people.
“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 that we are in now,” he said.