- Garba Shehu has spoken in defense of the president's Independence Day speech where spoke about subsidy and compared Nigeria to other countries
- The presidential aide pointed out that it is not fair to use taxes collected from the poor to subsidise petrol which is only used by urban city dwellers
- Some Nigerians were not in agreement with Shehu's explanation and asked him to also compare minimum wage in other countries to that of Nigeria
The presidency has thrown more light on President Muhammadu Buhari's comparison of Nigeria to Saudi Arabia in his Independence Day speech.
Buhari, in his speech, had said it made no sense for petrol to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.
This fetched a lot of backlash from Nigerians who asked the president to also compare the minimum wage in Nigeria with that of Saudi Arabia.
Asked why the President made the comparison during his appearance on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Friday, October 2, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, defended the president.
According to him, Nigeria belongs to a global market system. He noted that the nation buys most of its refined products from the international market.
Insinuating that not many Nigerians have cars and run generators, Shehu asked if it was fair for taxpayers money to be used in subsidising petrol which is used mostly by the elites and those in cities. He said:
“Is it fair that the taxpayers’ money…how many Nigerians have cars anyway? How many of them run generators in their homes that they need this fuel for?
“Is it fair that the farmer, herders and low-level people in the society that the taxpayer money is taken from them is subsidising the lifestyle of our city urban dwellers? The President is just trying to be as practical on these matters as possible."
Not many agreed with his explanation they took to the comment section to call him out.
"Never right... Saudi is way far advanced than Nigeria and the government in Saudi Arabia made the standard of living in Saudi Arabia much better than Nigeria that the Saudi Arabians don't feel the impact of the amount they obtain petrol in their country."
Wugate Justice with the Twitter handle @AmManoski wrote:
"Since he compared the prices of fuel in these countries with ours, it would have been wise for Mr. President to compare also, their minimum wage, unemployment rate, the rate of their currency to dollar and their economic well being generally, not only fuel."
Oluwatoyin Adeniran on his part reminded Shehu of the fat salaries government officials collect monthly. He wrote:
"Our presidents and their cronies share the booty!!! I guess someone needs to remind Garba Shehu of the ostentatious lifestyle of his cronies in government and the houses of Assembly! He needs to be reminded that the “armed robber” salaries and allowances that they apportioned to themselves are tax payers money and if they will agree to half it, it could take care of the so called subsidy (which in itself, is seen some quarters as a farce)! Let someone please tell him to stop insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians!"
Nigeria's main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had earlier berated President Buhari over the Independence Day speech.
It said the attempt to justify the increase of fuel price in Nigeria by comparing it to the N168 per litre cost in Saudi Arabia is a morbid joke.
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