[OPINION] When shall we be told the truth about Nigeria’s fuel subsidy removal?


A fuel pump.

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“Angered Nigerians are asking the newspaper editors, who help him unleash those propagandist reports to garner sympathy of the people that, why have they not written to ask their sponsors about the confirmed two bullion vans driven into his house on election day in 2019. Was it Buhari that sent him, were they meant to advance the re-election of Buhari in the South West or he used that to settle his own political defence to continue to secure his political economic cash cow of Lagos?”


Although President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration has continued to keep Nigerians in the dark as to whether or not he is still paying fuel subsidy he claimed to have removed by his sudden policy of May 29, 2023, more unhidden non-government sources have come out to unequivocally say he pays.

It will be recalled sources in the past including oil workers’ unions said the president returned to paying subsidy in August 2023 the same month one of The DEFENDER’s published articles advised strongly that he could not punish over 200 million people for the crime of few subsidy scammers and so should revert to payment of same. Through the GCEO of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mallam Mele Kyari, at a PENGASAN summit in Abuja, the government denied reverting to fuel subsidy payment.

To further add to the pain, it has been said that the government still pays massive subsidy of N1 trillion monthly to keep petrol in Nigeria cheap and that the cheap price is encouraging smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries. And questions are asked: At over N600 as against N184/N185 fuel pump price the Tinubu’s government inherited from Buhari administration some nine months ago?

It was further revealed that it was because the country’s fuel is cheap that smuggling of same to neighbouring countries is encouraged and another question is asked: Should Nigerian fuel pump price now be further increased from its current price and, if so, in what reform in the world are the people subjected to deaths, sickness, high grade poverty creation as of this?

Shall we now have further pump price increase because we want to meet up with price in neighbouring countries? How true is it that is cheaper in Nigeria? Why do we like using Naira to measure prices across the borders? In Republic of Benin, fuel is sold for CFA600. It should not concern us how much is CFA600 in Naira. It is deceptive economic theory to look at fuel of CFA600 in Republic of Benin at exchange rate to Nigerian Naira. When compared as CFA600 and N630 per lite, it is cheaper in neighbouring country than in Nigeria. No question.

Recall also that this online newspaper published a WAKE UP opinion article by its founder, Prince Bashir Adefaka, titled “The fuel subsidy removal and my other thoughts”, wherein he said, “I will say Nigeria should return to fuel subsidy payment and remove it only when the nation has restored its productivity (local refineries) to installed capacity to be able to compete with other currencies. No economy where refined petroleum product is sourced by import can survive at N1,000 to $1 forex.”

Before arriving at the decision to put the above in writing, the author had adduced a lot of reasons.

“That brings us to the issue of fuel subsidy removal. President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, had rejected advice by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement fuel subsidy removal. He had his reason – not until the things to mitigate the adverse effects of subsidy removal are put in place.

“The former President had programmed to revive the local refineries, which have remained moribund across successive administrations. He practicalised his preparation for subsidy removal by assisting private and state-owned institutions in building modular refineries. We saw examples in Imo State and we saw the one being built in Edo State by Governor Godwin Obaseki.

“We saw the level of readiness Kaduna Refinery, Warri Refinery and Port Harcourt Refinery had reached under President Buhari at the time. We also saw the speed at which the Daura, Katsina State-born former General Officer Commanding (GOC), Third Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army turned three-time Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pushed the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Company to take off in Lagos as an enviable private intervention in investment.

“Still, all those efforts did not show because elements, who feed fat on fuel subsidy meant for the good of the masses of the people, would not allow those beautiful achievements of government to be positively impactful.

“A yet to be ascertained claim has it that some of these elements have refineries abroad, whose market destination of choice and whose customer is one and only Nigeria. Resuscitation off refineries in Nigeria would mean death for their business hence the issues. What a country people!

“The problem is multifaceted. The Western nations too are complicit; they are part of the problem. Except what is available about the role they play in these complications that Nigeria suffers from, there abound video proofs of the West’s plan to put African nations particularly Nigeria in permanent penury – economic and industrial disability for them to continue to remain in power. Would France’s nuclear power survive without the uranium of the Republic of Niger?

“We have heard and read about their roles in the Boko Haram and general insecurity challenges in the North East of Nigeria. As stated above, we have heard about how France cannot live without uranium of the Republic of Niger. We even heard that the West discovered and had exploited Nigerian oil for 25 years before they let the blessed country know about their God-given natural resources.

“We saw how they forcefully removed Oba Obvorawen Nogbaisi of Benin Kingdom of old to have access to the resources of rubber plantation accruing to Nigeria through his domain.

“But, let the question be asked, is fuel subsidy removal the way out of the economic quagmire in which we have found ourselves? President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his day one in office, said ‘yes’. His position is easily understandable. No nation should close its eyes to economic and financial criminality that sees few number of the population fill only their pockets with all the gains and benefits meant to go into the welfare of vast majority of over 200 million others.

“However, I have slept over the policy and have been able to see it the other way round. Since subsidy is meant to make essential needs of people available to them at no exorbitant rate, instead for the government to stop the fuel subsidy because of the offence of mal-administration committed by people upon whom fall the duty to dispense to the reach of targeted beneficiaries, it is the enforcement of law on the part of the government that should be activated.

“You cannot make 200 million people suffer abject poverty because of the crimes of a few proportion of the population, which you have constitutional power to deal with. If Nigeria continues to pay subsidy, who should do it if not the nation? Especially when fuel subsidy is the only largesse of state that Nigerian masses can confirm to ever see and which they are not even allowed the settled mind to enjoy.

“Other nations pay monthly stipends into accounts of their respective levels of citizenship; that does not happened in Nigeria. In the Republic of Benin, government officials go from house to house to update their records of residents and then come shortly after to distribute mosquito nets to them, every living being, in the house. In that country, people comply with laws of the state because people in control of power that rule them think about them and their welfares.”

The DEFENDER published that article on August 19, 2023 and month end news started flying around that Tinubu paid N164.7 billion that month for the same fuel subsidy which removal he tagged to the reform by which he said he was going to save money to develop the country since, according to his National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu, his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari had reportedly stolen all the money in the treasury that he cannot have money to run Nigeria.

Many expect President Bola Tinubu, known for never saying things by himself but through third party, would come out to clear the air on that Ribadu’s reported statement and similar things said negatively about his predecessor of same political party by his aides. Not only he never did, even his body language showed and still shows that he concurs. Some allegedly hired newspapers’ editors are now even let into it as a particularly most recent report titled, “Tinubu’s Headache: How multi-billion dollar corruption under Buhari hit the economy – Investigation”, has been unleashed in what has been described as part of the attempt by him to shift the blame of his misapplied government policies on his predecessor, Buhari, with his tribesmen of Yoruba and some Obas further escalating the blame game and propaganda to him being sabotaged by Hausa-Fulani people, the same Northerners without whom he would not have gotten to power through the last presidential election.

At any rate, with Mr. Robert Dickerman, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company active across the entire downstream value chain, now disclosing that Nigeria is currently paying about N1 trillion monthly as petrol subsidy, despite the much hyped deregulation and subsidy removal, questions that keep lips of many watchers of the system wagging are: Why are Nigerians then being thrown into suffering by an acclaimed fuel subsidy removal which the president said publicly that he would not reversed? What joker are you playing that despite paying subsidy, which you said would be saved to take care of other developments, that you have Federation Account now has over a trillion Naira shared monthly to Federal, States and Local Governments and, from your own Federal side, several billions of naira are being thrown around to fight COVID-19 in December 2023 (according to Femi Falana SAN) and “unverified N30 billion to each state Governor” according Nigeria’s number three citizen Senate President Godswill Akpabio, and many more?

Tinubu has not addressed the nation on these ambiguities but he keeps vowing he will not reverse his policies of fuel subsidy removal and naira floating that took the country and his people to this horrible poverty and insecurity creation state. As these are on, in the face of these evident hunger and anger in the land although his own South West people are either quiet as alleged by Yusuf Mahdi, his administration has also flown the idea of removing subsidy on the same electricity that Nigerians who pay for it are not supplied. What that mean is that consumers will now pay exorbitantly for electric power they do not enjoy in a country from which Republic of Benin, where power never blink, gets its electricity supply.

Those who claim the hardship seen in Nigeria since Tinubu started happening to the country is global should point to one country from the ECOWAS, headed by him, to the entire continent and across the world where people have died or poverty is created because of economic challenge as it happens currently here. Truth is, much as those countries have economic challenges, government leaders over there always have ways they mitigate the problem so the impact is not deeply felt by their people. Former President Buhari, who refused to remove subsidy and float the naira, knew they are IMF/World Bank ideas that would bring untold hardship to Nigerian people he led, but did Nigerians themselves cooperate with or listen to him, despite his evident seriousness and sincerity to change the country for better?

Everything they saw about the man was herdsmen killing people of their particular side of the country and they lost the opportunity to get Nigeria truly transformed.  Regardless of shortcoming the Daura, Katsina State-born former Leader could have, one thing that would never be denied about him is that, even his worst political enemies knew that as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was and is never a thief. You can take this to the bank from here. Legit! The slang would say.

It could also be that Nigerians, largely from the Ngbati side where the lens with which a sitting President is viewed is located, called him brainless. They said during his military regime he depended on the brain of his deputy, Major General Tunde Idiagbon now late in achieving all the achieves of the time. In that civilian administration they said it was the brain his vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo (SAN) that he was using to perform. They never saw anything good or properly done right in the President Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023) despite our warning that it was risky to use the judgment of opposition politicians to judge a government that the people would be able to install for the first time since return of democracy in 1999. They did not listen and we gave them six months after Buhari that they would seek to want him back in power.

Question was asked: A man, who singlehandedly conceived, birthed and implemented the idea that a country blessed with natural oil resources should not import refined petroleum products and thus built four refineries for Nigeria as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, how can such a man be called brainless? His Head of State at the time he did those things, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, attested to this in 2015 when unverified things were being allowed to flying across the media space of the country by people of Southern Nigeria, who did not want him to become President as All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate. When he finally became president, they only celebrated him for a while they left him in the hands of political opponents from National Assembly to the Adams Oshiomhole-led APC, who was believed to be working for Tinubu at the time, only for them to wake up later and meet negative things being said about Buhari and they joined in it.

But that was the disposition and attitude of Nigerians towards Buhari’s civilian administration to the extent that even the man in power today was even accused of being part of the sabotage that his administration suffered especially as it was said economic instability as a result of inflation was due to activities of hoodlums and mediocre who formed themselves into a parallel government in Lagos State where he is political garrison commander and his daughter, Iyaloja General.

Those who complained said prices of rice, beans, tomatoes, even yam and animals were reasonable and affordable from Northern Nigeria parts where they were brought from until they got to Lagos, from where they then circulated to other parts of South West, the region known for protests including media propaganda against sitting presidents in the past. Today he is being reported to have an imminent clash with his predecessor because of a supposed multi-billion naira corruption under investigation.

Angered Nigerians are asking the newspaper editors, who help him unleash those propagandist reports to garner sympathy of the people that, why have they not written to ask their sponsor about the confirmed two bullion vans driven into his house on election day in 2019. Was it Buhari that sent him, were they meant to advance the re-election of Buhari in the South West or he used that to settle his own political defence to continue to secure his political economic cash cow of Lagos? They say it is only by providing answers to these questions and other earlier asked questions about subsidy removal that Tinubu can be taken seriously about fighting corruption.

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