Away from myopic thinking about rumoured fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria

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From Left: Obasanjo, Jonathan and Buhari.

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By ANONYMOUS

 

“The Federal Government, in doing this, should get the state governments to remove transportation and market management from the hands of hoodlums. When you allow touts to decide transport fares and impose counter-progression taxes on the market place, removing fuel subsidy in that situation will be suicidal to the government and country, while it will be massacre against the helpless masses.”

 

A supposed dream story has been stumbled upon across a social media platform, where somebody was said to be apologising, or so, to Nigerians over what he called “APC campaign lie of nothing like fuel subsidy to disparage PDP”. Here is my reply to such unfortunate dreamer, which I expect will go as far as his story telling has gone, and I believe the points I will raise here will apply to the commonsense and conscience both of such story teller and of any patriotic Nigerian, who will be ready to only stand with the positive side of discourse, towards achieving, sincerely, solution for the current realities. To me, it is better this way than joining hands to confuse the situation on ground, along with those unpatriotic elements, who we have seen compromise their nation’s good before, to the extent of taking dollars to collapse it.

His dream was truly taken too far, as reacted to by another fellow citizen. I still insist today that to say it ever happened there was ‘APC campaign lie of no subsidy to disparage PDP’ is to be self-deceived. I always wonder when schooled Nigerians talk and no evidence of education having passed through their brains. Does this look like insult? Don’t take it like that. But be comfortable with the simple truth that it is just the reality of what many do. My Consolation, nonetheless, is in the fact that PDP is now undergoing reforms. I agree it is.

Call this writer a spokesman of the government or not, boldly asked question none of these fellows has answered is, can you compare the subsidy as conceptualized under PDP’s (whether Obasanjo, Yar’Adua or Jonathan’s) government with subsidy under APC’s (so far Buhari’s) government? I sometimes wonder why people would have the unhindered means to knowing the truth but they willingly choose the other way. Sadly, some of these fellows are Journalists, who should be the best bet to educate Nigerians on issues, formed themselves into the activist kind of behaviour that such self-styled angered election losers and their sympathisers put up.

PDP took over Nigeria in 1999 on N22 per liter fuel pump price. It could have been N15 but definitely not above N22. Under one year, through a deceptive methodology of saying the reason Nigerian petroleum marketers, who the government could have taken action against, were smuggling the country’s imported fuel to neighbouring Republic of Benin and beyond to the detriment of Nigerian masses and economy was because fuel sold much higher in that Kerekou’s country and others, then, than it sold in Nigeria. Olusegun Obasanjo increased the fuel again and again until it got to N65. That was a subsidized imported fuel on which huge subsidy was paid to the same smugglers, who used Nigeria’s money to import fuel and still smuggled same product, which they supposed to sell to Nigerians for their ease doing business, to growing other countries’ economies and for the comfort of citizens of those lands at Nigerian citizens’ peril.

To carjoe the public the more, Obasanjo said N1 of the N65 pump price per liter would go to providing health care for every Nigerian citizen. People, who are now dreaming about “APC campaign lie of no subsidy tO disparage PDP” do not need to be asked: “How much of PDP Obasanjo’s promised provision of health to every citizen from N1 per liter have you gotten?”. They don’t need to be asked. They should make another dream and wake up to tell us how they benefitted.

Still on PDP’s Obasanjo. The same President of Nigeria (1999-2007) increased subsidized fuel from N65 he hitherto did to N75 per liter. Adams Oshiomhole led NLC kicked and shutdown Nigeria in 2003 for that. He knew how he cajoed Adams, who called off his strike after Obasanjo announced reduction of fuel from N75 to N70. That was PDP and a President of Southern extractions.

When another PDP President – but this time a Northerner – Yar’Adua, came, he said “we were better with N65” and crashed fuel price from N70 back to N65. It was smoothly maintained that way until he died early 2010. Not only that. Rice under Obasanjo had reached N5,000 per bag. Immediately Yar’Adua came, a crisis occurred and rice started selling for N10,000 per bag. Yar’Adua was agitated by that and gave an Open All Borders emergency order for rice importation through land borders and rice price fell to N5,000 per bag.

Moment Jonathan came, another PDP President (Southerner), fuel jacked up, under one year between 2011 and 2012, from Yar’Adua’s commonsensical N65 to N144. Another NLC/TUC strike propped up but could not stop the autocratic decision that caused hardship on the masses by the supposed subsidy removal until a near uprising forced the Jonathan government to reconsider its decision. Yes, he reconsidered his decision but from N144 down to N97 and not the hitherto N65. The fuel subsidy protest of 2012 ended with that. That was what we had been living it. They said they were jettisoning their subsidy removal plan and so would continue to pay subsidy, reason they were not going to bring the price back to public demanded N65 but hanged it at N97. I believed them that they were still paying subsidy but where were the evidence of subsidy in ordinary Nigeria targeted to benefit? Nothing. That was the question the APC campaigners asked that the dreamers later turned to “APC campaign lie of no subsidy to disparage PDP”.

Recall amidst that, there was Oil Windfall that saw Nigeria sell crude for over $100 per barrel. Saudi Arabia, Libya, many oil producing countries in the world acknowledged the windfall and announced crash in local pump price of consumable fuel for their citizens at filling stations. Deziani Allison Madueke was Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, born of oil producing part, Niger Delta, where corruption of managers of national oil wealth turned to poverty headquarters of the land.  She later became President of the OPEC. But she and her President, Jonathan, never considered Nigerians to benefit from the oil windfall until the government was forced by public outcry towards 2015 general elections, when they now removed N10 and thus reduced the fuel pump price from N97 to N87. Recall rice was sold already for between N10,000 and N12,000 per bag. I am not really discussing rice here it becomes important, anyway, to mention.

Removing N10 from N97, however, did no magic that Jonathan’s PDP had anticipated. APC’s talakawas’ candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, finally made it, when the powers that dominated decision making on Nigerian elections’ results finally freed the space and allowed the people’s votes to count. Major General Muhammadu Buhari, a former Military Head of State, thus defeated Jonathan and sent PDP packing to become democratically elected leader and is now called President Muhammadu Buhari.  Before the 2015 general elections, the APC had told Nigerians that what PDP called Fuel Subsidy was HUGE CORRUPTION. Is that campaign claim what some dreamers have been calling “APC campaign lie of no subsidy to disparage PDP”?  They should remain in their dream and never wake up to life to tell us their story any more.

Was fuel subsidy under PDP not a huge corruption? Why are they then trying to misrepresent what was said to make APC look like a lier? If there was Fuel Subsidy that was devoid of corruption under PDP, why did it happen, always, that Nigerians never enjoyed fuel not even to talk of at ease? It was either long queue leading to N250 per liter plus sleeping overnight at filling station or there was no fuel at all. Since President Muhammadu Buhari led APC stepped into that position of power, the narratives and physicalities of the fuel management economy in Nigeria has changed.

What Buhari’s government did was that, they removed subsidy that they inherited being paid to fuel marketers, who never gave fuel to Nigerian consumers for whose reason they were being paid the subsidy, and left the business of fuel importation that government would concern itself with in the hands of NNPC. These dreamers of today knew that government allowed only NNPC to import fuel and gave it the go ahead to be responsible for payment of fuel subsidy that was needed on what it would import and still maintain distribution percentage with the faithful major marketers. That subsidy that NNPC paid was what those ones screamed over to say “APC government that said nothing like subsidy still pays subsidy.”

The government made themselves clear that any fuel marketer that was interested in importing the product should go and source for his own forex to do so. That was after it was discovered that they kept shortchanging Nigerians with percentage of supply the NNPC was giving to them. Instead of selling to Nigerian in need of it, they used all means to take it across the borders for higher profits.  Major marketers like Oando, Conoil, Total, Mobil, AP, however, remained with the government’s arrangement of NNPC because, no matter what, they always sold fuel to Nigerians at normal price. Even when Buhari crashed price from N87 to N86 and independent marketers were shutting their filling stations against motorists, major marketers remained faithful until the arrangement of N145 was forced on government by those ones. Then N165.

Now, some people appear to be losing it because they have heard that fuel subsidy will finally be removed. We are all Nigerians and should face realities together for our collective good, instead of fraternizing with some elements to politicize our collective destiny. What those crying should do is, ask government to hold on, until Dangote Refinery takes off and modular refineries being installed everywhere are monitored strictly to ensure positive delivery. Mass production of gas consuming and electric vehicles by Innoson Vehicles Manufacturers (IVM) will boost the Nigeria’s drive towards industry based economy but sight must not be lost out of the fact that, after fuel it will still be fuel. Those who predict that petroleum will dry up are playing Allah. Only him can tell about the end of oil anywhere in the world. But, if the thought is about Climate Change, it can be understandable.

More importantly, instead of confusing the one on the driver’s seat or dragging the steering with him, which can be disastrous, what those dreamers and other commonsense citizens should do is tell the Federal Government what to do and how to do it right.  At my own level, I urge that the Federal Government to take holistic measures at descending on state governments, ho have handed over their powers and conscience to touts or thugs in the toga of Norman humans, to stop doing so and return power to who is elected as governor and make him act well. The Federal Government, in doing this, should get the state governments to remove transportation and market management from the hands of hoodlums. When you allow touts to decide transport fares and impose counter-progression taxes on the market place, removing fuel subsidy in that situation will be suicidal to the government and country, while it will be massacre against the helpless masses.

*The DEFENDER supports anonymous writeups that are well intentioned and for the good of country.


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