A prominent non-governmental organization, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has raised concerns and demanded clarification from President Bola Tinubu regarding his proposed N500 billion palliative alternative to petrol subsidy removal. The organization seeks more transparency on how the funds will be allocated to provide relief for Nigerians following the removal of petrol subsidies.
In President Tinubu’s inaugural address on May 29, 2023, he announced the intention to utilize N500 billion for palliatives, highlighting concerns that the subsidy system disproportionately favored the wealthy. The approval for the N500 billion palliative was granted by both chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday.
Tola Oresanwo, the Director of Administration and Programmes at CACOL, conveyed the organization’s request for further details in a statement signed on behalf of CACOL’s Chairman, Debo Adeniran. Oresanwo emphasized the importance of clarifying how the funds will be utilized and ensuring that the average Nigerian understands the intended impact of the allocation.
The statement highlighted that President Tinubu’s request was conveyed through a letter to the National Assembly, which was read during a plenary session by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas. The President proposed an amendment to the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act, aiming to allocate the sum of N500 billion from the Act’s total of N819,536,937,815 for palliatives aimed at mitigating the effects of petrol subsidy removal.
CACOL stressed the necessity for transparency and urged President Tinubu to disclose detailed information on how the funds will be expended. The organization acknowledged the need for palliatives to assist Nigerians negatively affected by the removal of fuel subsidies but emphasized the importance of transparency to avoid repeating the mistakes of past administrations.
Drawing attention to previous instances where food meant as palliatives during the COVID-19 pandemic was hoarded by individuals in power, CACOL insisted on the publication of the expenditure details, including the beneficiaries’ names and locations, the disbursement modalities, any attached conditions, and other relevant information that would reassure Nigerians that the funds would be used as intended.
CACOL Chairman further argued that if the government intends to provide conditional cash transfers or any other method of disbursement, the N500 billion may not have a significant impact on the livelihoods of the beneficiaries. Instead, the organization proposed utilizing the palliative funds to subsidize essential macro-economic products such as electricity or building materials, ensuring a more widespread and tangible impact on the population.
“It can also be used to subsidize the cost of building materials or telephony thereby having a direct impact on affordable housing and communication among the people. Reduction in prices of these products will affect everybody rather than selective conditional transfer to some privileged few that has been done in the past and nobody has openly acknowledged that it impacted positively on their lives”.
The organization concluded by urging the Tinubu-led administration to learn from past mistakes and ensure that the palliative funds are utilized in a manner that benefits all Nigerians, rather than a privileged few. CACOL stressed the importance of openly acknowledging the positive impact on the lives of the people and encouraged the government to consider subsidizing the cost of goods and services that affect the general population directly.
As Nigerians await a response from President Tinubu, concerns over the transparent utilization of the N500 billion palliative plan continue to mount, highlighting the need for accountability and equitable distribution to ensure the desired impact on the populace.