Ajuri Ngelale, the senior special adviser on public affairs to President Muhammadu Buhari has defended the Buhari’s administration, saying president Buhari has soft spot for the poor masses and kept subsidy intact because he cares.
Ajuri, a journalist, who is known for tactical political questions during interviews and his contributions to the media industry through outstanding media platforms in Nigeria, who now serves as the senior special adviser (SSA) to the President, defended the Buhari’s administration on Wednesday in a live radio interview broadcast on 94.9 flo-fm Umuahia, monitored by Total News24.
When asked why the presidency decided to remove petroleum subsidy this trying times, Ajuri said : “what is it that has cost the nation to lose 60% of its revenue? Is it not the pandemic we are referring to? It’s not just Nigeria by the way, Nigeria’s economy contracted by 6% but South Africans economy contracted by 40%.
“We are in a position now where we cannot afford the subsidy. It’s even a wrong theory to say that, because of the pandemic is here now, that is the reason why we should spend money on fuel subsidy instead of paying pensioners and civil servants so that they can feed. We should not pay our armed forces so that they can be able to conduct their operations? Instead of been able to provide roads, railways, power stations and Agriculture production which is the future of the economy?
“We should drop all of that so that we can pay petroleum subsidy with 40% of the revenue? I don’t think any person with basic understanding of economy management, even as a house hold level will agree that to be a wise decision”.
When also asked about the increase in electricity tariff in this pandemic?
He said: “In the past what we have is general increase in electricity bills, so whether you are rich or poor you pay. Because Buhari has soft spot for the poor masses that elected him, he said we have to create a distinction in the tariff increase.
“The president said any person in Nigeria that receives less than 12 hours of power supply in their homes or offices in a day will not see a kobo of tariff increase that is 65% of the population.”
He also revealed that the president has put in place the electricity capping regulation plan which is said to regulate over billing on electricity consumers.
“If you don’t have a metre in your neighbourhood and your neighbour has a metre, then the capping regulation says if my neighbour who has a metre, is been charged five thousand naira a month because of the amount of power that comes to that area, therefore, if you don’t have metre, you will pay same amount as your neighbor that month. That is how the regulation works unlike when you have exploitation and over estimated billing. This regulation puts an end to that”. Ajuri revealed.
While responding to questions from callers on the program, Ajuri gave reasons why the subsidy wasn’t removed before now.
“There was no pandemic that cut the country’s revenue by 60%. The president did not want the cost of transportation to go up. That was the reason he delayed the removal of the subsidy. He kept the subsidy intact because he cares about people.”
On the question of what the south easterners have achieved from the Buhari’s administration, Ajuri defended by listing some projects?
“You have a two hundred and six billion naira (N206bn) Niger bridge which is the most expensive in the country, except for the third mainland bridge. That bridge was a piece of Joy on a paper for forty years, people from the zone did nothing about that project, this president have invested almost ninety billion (N90bn) on that project and its going to be completed within the first quarter of 2023.
“Anybody who is not politically biased will see what is happening on Aba-Porthacort express way, though it is not yet completed but we have made several investments across the south east.” Ngelale argued .
He also defended the Buhari’s administration in south east with the renovation of the Enugu and Portharcourt international airport.
Ajuri also held claims to some economic plans of the Buhari’s administration which he said will cushion the effect of the petroleum subsidy removal.
“We have the survival fund program. It’s a bond of N75bn which will accept portal registration of applicants from September 21, 2020. It’s part of the Buhari’s economic plan.
“The Survival fund is not the only intervention we are bringing, we have the N2.3tn economic sustainability plan that has been designed and over sighted for implementation by the vice president Yemi Osinbajo.
“There will be other interventions coming from the bank of industry, we are going to be giving zero interest loans” Ngelale revealed.
Ngelale also revealed the agriculture component plan of president Buhari which he said the governors of the south east and other governors across the country have agreed to supply between 20,000 to 100,000 hectres of land.
The governors was said to have been collaborating with the federal government on the plan in exchange to have five million young people from all the state of the federation to conduct land cleaning and land cultivation scheme.
“Once it is done, the federal government is targeting 5,000 export commodity cash crops”. Ngelale said.