Lagos — Nigeria’s presidential frontrunner Bola Tinubu on Friday promised to remove a fuel subsidy if elected next February, adding that his government would ramp up oil production and deregulate midstream gas prices within six months.
Nigerians will elect a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who steps down next year after serving the two presidential terms mandated by the constitution.
The 70-year-old Tinubu, from Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress, is a former state governor and senator of Lagos, the country’s commercial capital.
He launched his presidential manifesto in Abuja where he promised to create a Special Enforcement and Monitoring Unit to protect the country’s oil pipelines by “deploying technological interventions”, including drones.
The 75-page manifesto said Tinubu’s government would raise gas production by 20% and complete gas infrastructure projects by 2027.
On the fuel subsidy, a major election issue, Tinubu said it would be phased out and the money channelled to agricultural and social welfare programmes, road construction, public transport subsidies, education and healthcare programmes.
“In this way, the funds are more directly and better utilised to address urgent social and economic needs,” the manifesto said.
Previous Nigerian governments have promised to remove the subsidy but failed.
A Tinubu government would also review the existing exchange rate regime that has seen the premium between the naira’s official and parallel rate widen this year. New foreign debt will only be contracted for “projects that generate cash flows from which the debt can be repaid”.
Tinubu said he would use his experience from running Lagos between 1999-2007 to institute “no-nonsense” crime prevention reform to end insecurity in Africa’s most populous economy.
Anti-terrorist battalions would be created to fight the insurgency in the northeast and banditry and kidnapping in northwestern Nigerian while the military would be better equipped, he said.
*MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing: Kirsten Donovan – Reuters
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