(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian presidential candidate Bola Tinubu said he will phase out costly fuel subsidies and more than triple oil production to help accelerate growth in Africa’s biggest economy if he wins elections in February.

Tinubu will work with the nation’s central bank to “carefully review and better optimize” the nation’s system of multiple exchange rates, he said Friday at the unveiling of his election pledges in the capital, Abuja. The current “ineffective” and “somewhat arbitrary” arrangement encourages “currency speculation and arbitrage,” according to a campaign manifesto released at the event.

The candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress also proposed to base the nation’s annual budget on the predicted level of government expenditure, rather than the dollar value of projected oil revenue. “As part of this prudent growth-based budgeting, we will establish a clear and mandatory inflationary ceiling on spending,” he said.

Tinubu, 70, is one of the frontrunners to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. His main rivals are Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi from the Labour Party. A former governor of Lagos state, Tinubu has been influential in Nigerian politics for more than two decades and was a key part of the coalition that brought Buhari to power in 2015.

Expensive Subsidies

Under Buhari, total public debt has more than tripled and the government is currently earning less than the cost of servicing the repayment of that borrowing. A Tinubu administration will limit Nigeria’s “exposure to large debt obligations denominated in foreign currency,” according to the manifesto. His government will only contract non-naira loans that are “linked to projects that generate cash flows from which the debt can be repaid,” it said.

Buhari has delayed his government’s previously announced plan to shelve expensive gasoline subsidies until after the election, leaving his successor the politically thorny choice of whether to foist much higher prices on consumers to free up funds for other investments. The bill for the intervention has shot up this year along with the oil price and, if unreformed, could exceed the government’s entire income in 2023.

Tinubu will remove the fuel subsidy and allow the market to set the pump price, according to his manifesto. The savings made by the government will then be allocated not only to health and education but also infrastructure and social welfare projects, it said.

While Nigeria still relies on oil and gas for about 90% of its export revenue, the country’s crude output has almost halved since the first quarter of 2020, falling to less than 1.2 million barrels a day in September. Tinubu has set himself ambitious targets to reverse the decline.

According to the manifesto, his government will increase daily oil production to 2.6 million barrels by 2027 and 4 million barrels by 2030, by tackling pipeline theft, attracting deep-water investment and encouraging frontier exploration in areas including the conflict-ridden Lake Chad basin.

If Tinubu is successful next year, he said he wants to grow the participation of local companies in oil production -– a trajectory that’s already underway as international producers such as Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE seek to offload their remaining onshore permits. Tinubu will make the oil majors “assign a share of revenue toward knowledge sharing and technology transfer” to domestic firms, according to the manifesto.

Tinubu’s other proposals include:

  • Halving the youth unemployment rate within four years.
  • Allocating a higher percentage of state funds to state and local governments rather than the federal administration.
  • Encouraging the “prudent” use of blockchain technology in finance and banking, revenue collection and the use of crypto assets.
  • Creating a million new jobs in the tech industry within his first two years in office.

Read: Poll Leader in Nigerian Presidential Race Pledges Forex Reforms


(Updated with details throughout)

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