on December 15, 2018
- As economy, subsidy, restructuring dominate debate
● Obi: You can’t shut down your shop and be chasing criminals
●Osinbanjo: If you allow criminals to loot the goods, you will no longer have a shop
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi yesterday disagreed on some policies of the Federal Government, including subsidy, anti-corruption war and the economy. The duo were among the vice-presidential candidates of five political parties who participated in the first phase of the presidential debates preparatory to the 2019 general elections. In the course of the debate, Obi who is the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chided Osinbajo and the All Progressives Congress (APC) for exerting so much energy on the anti-corruption fight while neglecting key policies that could revive the economy and reduce unemployment and poverty.He said: “You can’t shut down your shop and be chasing criminals”.
But Osinbajo retorted that, “if you don’t chase the criminals and they loot all the goods in the shop, you might have no shop at all”. The two candidates also disagreed on the the issue of subsidy regime in the petroleum sector in Nigeria. Osinbajo argued that subsidy in itself was not bad but becomes a challenge when the policy is abused.
He said that under the previous government, the subsidy regime on petroleum products was abused because the independent marketers made spurious claims for petroleum products not supplied, adding that currently only the Nigerian National Petroleum Products (NNPC) imports fuel and manages the scheme. According to Osinbajo, a termibation of the subsidy now would compel Nigerians to pay as much as N220 per litre of petrol which could trigger a rise in inflation in the polity. However, the candidate of the PDP described the subsidy regime of the APC government as subsidising inefficiency. Obi said the subsidy regime was not helpful any longer and ought to had been discarded while the government deployed more creative method of providing fuel at a reduced price Other candidates who participated in the debate included the candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) , Ganiyu Galadima; candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Khadijah Abdullahi -Iya and candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Uma Getso. The debate saw the candidates answering questions on the economic policies of their parties and what strategies thy would adopt in carrying out their programmes.
They also fielded questions on reform issues such as restructuring, power, devolution and deregulation of the petroleum sector. The session which lasted for two and a half hours also featured comments on the foreign policy direction of their parties including what position they would take on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement recently signed to by other African countries.