Buhari’s subsidy withdrawal deadline: When sleaze becomes unprecedented

April 17, 2023
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The more you try to understand Nigeria the more confused you get. A nation that has all it takes to be so great and be the envy of other nations is wallowing in chaos dubiously created by the leaders to defraud the led.

How long can we continue to tolerate this absurdity called governance in this country? Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its report said the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called Petrol rose by over 81 percent in the past three years despite the federal government paying over N6 trillion as subsidy within the same period.

In the last three years, fuel subsidy has gone from N134bn in 2020 to N1.43tn in 2021, N4.39tn in 2022. This led to a total of N5.83tn in subsidy payments, excluding the figures for 2023. The projection for year half 2023 (June) is N3.63tn. So another N3.63tn or more for the remaining six months of this year will land the nation paying well over N6tn as fuel subsidy. Kai Nigeria!

Related: Kyari’s NNPCL and embarrassing harvest of indictments over sleaze

Meanwhile the NBS data showed that between February 2020 and February 2023, the price of fuel rose from N145.41/litre to N263.76/litre.

The NBS report stated that the average retail price paid by consumers for Petrol in February 2023 was N263.76, indicating a 54.76 per cent increase when compared to the value recorded in February 2022 (N170.42).

At the onset of 2020, the average price paid by consumers for petrol increased by 0.08 per cent year-on-year and month-on-month by 0.03 per cent to N145.41 in February 2020 from N145.37 in January 2020, according to the NBS.

States with the highest average price of petrol were Abia (N146.87), Rivers (146.67) Adamawa (N146.67) and Niger (N146.57). States with the lowest average price of premium motor spirit were FCT (N143.67), Enugu (N144.50) and Lagos (N144.73) in 2020.

We should not forget that Kyari’s NNPC(L) has remained the sole importer of all the petrol used in this country for years now. That means the NNPC(L) brings in whatever volume of fuel it likes, they gives us the figure of the quantity they want us to believe because there’s no way an outside source can verify the company’s claims.

The same NNPC goes ahead to pay itself what they think the subsidy cash for such imports should be from the oil revenue it generates on trust for the nation and nobody dares say Pim as if the nation is spell bound.

Also read:   CNPP, Civil Society Coalition urge Buhari to sack NNPC Mele Kyari-led management for gross incompetence

As rightly said by an analyst, subsidy is the biggest scam in the history of this country, second only to the operations of the NNPC. No one has accurate data of the volume of petrol Nigeria uses. We pay subsidy claims using arbitrary data generated in the minds of NNPC managers and their masters at the Presidency.

The rot we have today in the nation’s apex concern under Mele Kolo Kyari is unprecedented. There’s nothing anybody is going to twist-say to change this glaring fact/truth.

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He has been conducting himself as if he is another president of Nigeria. For some months NNPC did not pay shishi as oil revenue into the Federation Account reasons being that the company ran at a loss under those months. And till today nobody- (not even president, nor the National Assembly) could muster enough willpower to ask a single question on such fictitious claims by Kyari and his men. Is this not the height of leadership ineptitude or maybe complicity?

Related: Reps committee begins investigation into missing $2.4 billion oil

The NNPC under Kyari woke up one morning and surreptitiously jacked up the nation’s daily consumption of petrol from about 33 million litres a day to over 65 million litres per day.

Rather than take up the responsibility to conduct proper forensic audit and obtain credible data, the Presidency and the National Assembly even the NGOs just swallowed the figure wholsale.

Subsidy was removed for Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) and Diesel (AGO), and till date no one can point out how the nation has profited from that action. Our refineries are still dead, the products are still not readily available except the batches that comes from the Niger Delta Kporfire Technology.

One of the major campaign promises of General Buhari in 2015 was cancellation of subsidy payments. He had since 2015, when he came into office as the president to implement this subsidy stoppage but he and his gang waited till few weeks to the end of his two terms to bring it up and worse still shifting the responsibility to the incoming government that should just be less than one month before the slated date for the subsidy removal. Is this not to deliberately create crisis for the new government?

This is the same Buhari and his worshipers that went to Okija shrine to swear that subsidy does not exist anywhere and that it is an outright corruption scheme packaged to drain the nation’s badly need scarce resources into pockets of few individuals and their cronies in and around the Jonathan government.

Now he ended up paying over 1000 percent more than what the government they serially marched against were paying on monthly basis. The issue is too hot for him so he is shifting it to whoever will take over from him. You see this man!

What justification do we have to astronomically increase the fuel prices because that’s the actual meaning of this so called “complete withdrawal of subsidy?” When will this country be serious?

For almost eight years now in government Buhari and Mele Kyari’s NNPCL could not resurrect a single refinery in the country to churn out fuel. It was only at the last minute of their administration that they are telling Port Harcourt Refinery is under rehab. This government has barely one month to go and they want us to believe that the Port Harcourt plant will come optimally alive before end of May 2023. Of course what God cannot do does not exit!

Now the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, came up last week to say Nigeria had borrowed $800m from World Bank for the purpose of palliatives for Nigerians ahead fuel subsidy removal. God have mercy!

Is this not a severance package for Zainab Ahmed and her gang at the presidency on one hand and the NNPC rogues and their collaborators at the presidency also? Why is the federal government borrowing $800 million to share to poor Nigerians as palliative? How is the government going to determine the actual Nigerian poor and their exact numbe? In a country where over 95 percent of the population is poor what yardstick is the government going to use to sieve the few rich from the poor masses?

Nigerians are not even interested in Buhari’s palliatives so the president and his rogue team can keep the $800 million but should know that when a new Sherriff comes to Aso Rock he may ask questions willingly or by compulsion from Nigerian masses who will definitely want explanations for the ongoing broad day ravaging of our collective wealth by those who operated under this government from the NNPC to the presidency. God bless Nigeria!

  • Mr. Izeze is a National Daily Columnist, and can be reached via: [email protected]; text only: 234-8033043009

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