Fuel Subsidy: Taking Our Country Back

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My Fellow Nigerians,

A lot has been written and said about the supposed removal by the Federal Government of Nigeria on subsidy on Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) hereinafter called Petrol as we popularly name it. Contrary to views expressed by the proponents of the removal the arguments by those opposed to the removal are economic and not sentimental.

That Nigerians do not feel the effect of Government is an understatement as can be adduced to by several reasons some of which I list below.

1. Nigerians generate their own power supply as that from Government owned Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) – formerly NEPA – is unreliable where it is available. Much of the ‘petrol’ they purchase is used to drive their private ‘power generating stations’ to provide light in their homes and/or offices as well as work their simple machinery (hair dressing equipment, sewing machines, grinders, welding machines, etc) through which they get their daily bread.

2. Across the country Nigerians do not have access to basic health-care delivery system. Government hospitals are more or less mortuaries as they lack medical equipment and drugs to treat common ailments which are rampant in the land like malaria, cholera, headache, tetanus, snake bites, with the resultant effect that doctors and other trained personnel have fled the Nation to countries where they would not have to live with the harrowing pain of watching helplessly as their patients die from diseases they could treat if the facilities were available. For these and many reasons life expectancy is about 48/49 years for the Nigerian man/woman.

3. Infrastructures across the land are in dilapidated states. The roads are death traps, public transportation is in shambles, the railway system has disappeared. Yet billions of Dollars which simply disappear are yearly provided for these facilities in the budgets of both the Federal and States Governments .

4. The education syatem at all levels have simply collapsed. Schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels lack books, instructional materials and laboratories are just mere words. Graduates in Computer Science of some Universities have never seen a computer system. Majority of the teachers at those levels are neither well trained nor motivated in terms of salaries and facilities. The competent ones have opted to practice their profession in other countries like Ghana, South Africa, Europe, USA etc. where the facilitaies are adequate and the income much better.

5. In Nigeria today the per capita income is arguably about $300; one of the lowest in the world and unemployment rate has reached an epidemic level of about 75%. Of course Government statistics are very unreliable so we cannot quote any real figure.

Let us now take a closer look at the figure being bandied around as subsidy by the Federal Government. If we accept the FGN’s fact that the market price of petrol should be N138:00/litre and that Nigerians consume 35 million litres/day then we can do a simple arithmetic of how much subsidy is payable every year. N[35,000,000.00 x 365 x (138-65] = N932,575,000,000 or N93258 billion. This is far less than the N1.3 trillion Government claims it paid as susbsidy for the 10 months of 2011. Did I hear you say “haaa”. Of course this calculation ignores the fact that the local refineries still manage to produce some volume of petrol for local comsumption. In addition, what happens to other derivatives (high/low pour fuel oil or H/LPFO, diesel or AGO,kerosene, jet fuel,gas) obtained form the crude oil shipped abroad in exchange for refined petrol?

Has anyone ever asked what happened to the money saved from the full deregulation of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, or diesel the price of which had been fully deregulated since around 2007.

More worrisome is the fact that Nigerians can no longer trust its representatives who refer to themselves as our leaders at all levels. Rather they see Government and elected/appointed officials as a bunch of wicked and insensitive robbers without exception. And will you blame them? Government officials from mere Local Government councillors, Chairmen, Commisioners, Heads of Ministries/Parastatals, members of States Houses of Assembly, Federal House of Representative, Senators, Ministers and Special Advisers live in opulence. All manner of nincompoops like Senate/Deputy President, Speaker/Deputy Speaker, Principal Oficers of both Legislative Houses, States Houses of Assembly Speakers, Ministers etc drive around in a convoy of at least 10 state-of-the-art often bullet-proof vehicles.
They acquire mansions in the choice areas within the country and in foreign lands. And this fact is not hidden from ordinary citizens of the land.

Nigerians of all classess complain that the size of Government is bloated yet it is only to accomodate a limited priviledged number of people who are often recycled while the majority live in squallor surviving on a meagre $2 a day.

It is obvious that our democratic Government as presently constituted and since 1999 do not possess the political will nor moral rectitude to curb the excesses of its officials and stop the monumental fraud being perpetuated by them.

For instance in the proposed 2012 Budget provision is made for N300 million to purchase kitchen utensils and cutleries , approximately N1 billion for fuelling and maintenance of the generating sets and N1 billion for feeding in Aso Rock. 72% of our budget is for Recurrent Expenditure, down from 74% (lol) of which I am sure personnel cost is only about 20% while the rest is overhead.

While the Queen of England and U. K. Prime Minister fly British Airways, Nigeria maintains a fleet of Presidential jets for its president; Vice President and Principal Officers of the National Assembly. Governors fly around in Chartered flights even to attend social events. The list of the recklessness of Government Officials are endless. Of course the wives of these officials are entitled to the very same life of opulence at Government expense.

If the information provided by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the CBN Governor that 10-15 ships purportedly laden with petrol are fraudlently certified as offloaded daily in our Ports and payment is obtained for the subsidy on the product while the ships are in fact diverted to other West African Countries where they are discharged and sold is anything to go by, then Sanusi, the Minister of Finance and all those involved should by now be cooling their heels in Gashua Prison.

To date goverment affairs are shrouded in secrecy but the opulent lifestyles of our looters, sorry leaders ooze out all over the world. Budgets are sketchy and even in the light of the present circumstances Government has not spelt out in details what it intends to achieve with the money to be saved from the fuel subsidy removal. There is also no commitment that Government will fight the scourge of corruption which has bedevilled the Nation especially the oil sector. It is a simple matter for a Government to determine the quantity of petrol supplied into the country. For instance, a simple equipment can be installed in dispensing pumps at filling stations to determine the quantity of petrol sold to the public and this is the quantity on which subsidy will be paid. By so doing it will ensure that fuel supplied and sold in neighbouring countries are not subsidized by Government.

Finally let me ask again what Government has in the past done with the 36% earmarked for Capital Expenditure. The Bible story of the three men given 1, 5 and 10 talents respectively should be a case study of why our Governments as presently constituted do not deserve to have access to more funds. Remember that the man with 1 talent just foolishly buried it while the Master was away only to return it to Him with insults when He returned. The Master promptly took it from the foolish servant and gave it to the one with 10 who had multiplied what he was given. Our Governments do not deserve more resources rather governance should be taken from them and given to those who know how to manage a people and harness their God given potential no matter how little.

It is my considered opinion that money does not build a Nation but values do. Give a fool a billion Dollars today and he will be broke a few years down the line. I am not sure there is anybody who has ever remained wealthy or built a fortune from winning jackpots. I stand to be corrected.

Gentlemen and women, it is time we arise to take the affairs of our Nation back from those who have developed the habit of gang-raping us and sqaundering our resources.

I will from time to time circulate on this forum expert views on this topic including a Report on the Process and Forensic Review of NNPC by KPMG Professional Services.

I stand with the Nigeria people on their avowed opposition to ‘Fuel Subsidy’ removal for the above reasons and many more which I cannot enumerate in a short piece like this.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and pray that in 2012 Almighty God shall give each of you the power to easily accomplish that which you have surrendered to the realm of impossibility because of limited personal financial, physical and spiritual resources. Amen.

Remember grumblers don’t build a Nation.

Sincerely,
IfeOluwa Oyedele

p.s.

The recent commitment made by the President to reduce the salaries of elected officials and political appointees in the Executive arm of Government is obviously an after-thought otherwise it should have been included in the 2012 Budget Proposals.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Very well written and informative piece. My views on the matter exactly. We know the idea of subsidy removal is ideal, but only in a perfect situation. Not in a corrupt country like ours. The timing is all too wrong.

  2. I guess the real question is will returning to the N65 per litre status quo a step in the right direction?

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