Upon his inauguration, the new Nigerian President Bola Tinubu announced the end of fuel subsidies. A measure that could ignite the country.
This is Muhammadu Buhari's poisoned gift left to his successor. Barely arrived at the presidency of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu already has a lot to do with the announced abolition of fuel subsidies. In reality, this measure was in the pipeline long before the presidential election. At the end of 2021, the federal government announced the implementation of this unpopular measure, proposing to transform traditional subsidies into monthly subsidies reserved for the most modest.
But, certainly to avoid losing the presidential election to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party, Buhari had decided to wait. But now, as he takes office, it will be up to Bola Tinubu to take matters into his own hands.
The notorious fuel subsidies were introduced in Nigeria in the mid-1970s, following the 1973 oil shock. plunge the country into a zone of turbulence.
However, the new Nigerian president is determined to alienate the people. And the unions. With the announcement of the abolition of subsidies, fuel prices have already soared. But for Tinubu, this measure is a must: Buhari left him with a debt of around 155 billion euros. Maintaining this system would increase this deficit.
This is actually a whole sector to review: major oil producer, Nigeria has no refineries and is therefore obliged to import the fuels that it originally exported itself. Putting an end to subsidies would, according to various studies, save $10 billion a year.
An unpopular but mandatory measure if the new president wants to put the IMF and the World Bank in his pocket. Still, the timing is not necessarily conducive to such an announcement. As soon as he arrives at the presidential palace, Tinubu alienates his voters.
Because the 200% increase in fuel prices in recent days is only the beginning of the crisis. However, in a context of high prices, particularly due to the war in Ukraine, Nigerians seem helpless. The unions have already announced strikes which could be massive.
Big loser of the last presidential election, the Nigeria Labor Congress says it is "scandalized by President Bola Tinubu's decision to remove fuel subsidies without having carried out the necessary consultations or without having put in place palliative measures". Because that is what Tinubu is accused of: what will he do once the subsidies are removed?