By Ifeanyi Izeze
Is Nigeria under a spell never to know how to deploy her resources for the welfare and wellbeing of her citizenry? How do you reconcile that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is again coming up with the tale that the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) imported into the country surged by more than 60 percent between December 2020 and mid-June 2021?
Is it not a shame to this administration and whoever is in charge that this same subsidy issue they used to oust the Jonathan government because “it was a scam and an easy avenue for corruption and stealing of government money”, is now several hundred times worse under Mr Integrity than it was under the old “corrupt” dispensation?
From an average of N143.60 per litre in December last year, the landing cost of petrol interestingly rose to N231.98 per litre in June this year. The government’s only way to explain this callous larceny by the NNPC which we know is being administered from the Presidency was that the naira depreciated against the dollar coupled with the rally in global crude oil prices within the period under review. Shame of a nation and its apex oil concern!
It’s unimaginable that a President who came to fight the fraud in the nation’s oil business has served for six years and could not build even one new refinery or even thoroughly refurbish existing ones. From engineering conception to full actualisation takes about 48 months for a full refining plant in any terrain of the world to be built. Some may even come on in less time.
No matter what anybody wants to say, it’s just a matter of the priorities of General Buhari and his government that is giving us this shameful outing in our downstream subsector. Truth be told, building a full -size refining plant would cost far less than the “brothers’keeper” railway projects for Niger Republic and curiously, nobody is even seeing it as it is just because they fully know what they are doing with and to this nation.
Buhari can borrow billions of dollars to build a brand new turnkey rail infrastructure to Niger Republic but can’t borrow even a fraction of that money to build a new refinery or even rehabilitate the existing three plants in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna so as to rest this subsidy scam forever. You see why it all borders on where the mind of the government is.
They are dragging feet with Dangote Refinery which they have and will further buy shares when it comes onstream towards the end of this regime after they have jacked up the domestic price of petrol and other products. All these jargons about rallying crude oil prices at the spot markets are all ploys to firmly position their Dangote refinery to sell to us at the international market prices when it starts producig.
It’s a big shame that we dole out 450, 000 barrels or even more of our crude oil every day for offshore processing for our domestic consumption and yet we still pay over N6 billion every day to subsidise availability of petrol which is just one product out of over 10 in the refining stream. How do you reconcile this? Haba!
If our refineries are not working; if new refineries have not been built by the government and; if we now have to import fuel from abroad including from African countries that do not produce oil, there can be no justification for visiting the irresponsibility of the government on the Nigerian people that are already battered by the cluelessness or rather deliberate mischief of this administration.
Again, the NNPC/government claims that smugglers are moving litres of fuel from Nigeria to neighbouring countries. Do you blame the Nigerian people, if the government and its apparatuses cannot curb the criminality of smugglers?
Unknown to Nigerians, this government has swallowed hook, line and sinker the neo-liberal policies dictated by IMF and the World Bank, whose implementation have continued to pauperize the Nigerian people and this is where the real problem is coming from.
Incredibly, the NNPC says smuggling across the borders has increased the daily consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to 103 million litres per day in May 2021.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, at stakeholders meeting organised by the corporation to discuss how best to stop smuggling in the country claimed “the current situation had kept the country in a state of bleeding, as it could not sustain the payment of subsidy that accompanies the volume.”
His words: “In very recent data, we see what we really want in the beginning of May and June; there was a day we load out about 103 million litres of PMS within one day across the depots.”
“We know it is not required, we know it is inappropriate and we also know that something wrong is happening that somebody is chasing something.
“But we in NNPC, we are not in control of that, we are not in every depot, we don’t keep products in all the depot but when the volume goes down, it comes down to us, when there is tight in supply, it comes back to the NNPC and we solve the problem.’’
In the thinking of these Buhari people, do they consider the ordinary Nigerians at all? The NNPC boss, had said last week that the pump price of petrol should be about N256 per litre and it does not occur to him that the national minimum wage is still N18, 000 per month. If this is not outright blackmail, what else can you call it! Is this not clear wickedness or more aptly extreme witchcraft against the ordinary Nigerians?
Hear him: “As long as the price of crude oil continues to rise and the pump prices of petrol remain the same in Nigeria, subsidy will increase and petrol smuggling will continue.”
“The best thing is for the government to deregulate the price of petrol to curb the smuggling of the product outside Nigeria to neighbouring countries.
The near authentic figure of our daily national consumption of petrol hovers around 25 million litres a day. The NNPC a short while ago marked it up to 35m through 60 million litres a day and now 103 million litres a day on the same ground of smuggling across the borders into our neighbouring West African countries. Chai, who do Nigeria this?
In all these, it is either the thinking of the General Buhari we knew and voted for has changed or he is copiously overwhelmed by the sleaze around him because it is clear now that the Mai Gaskiya has been demystified. God bless Nigeria!
- IZEZE is a columnist with National Daly
- Email: [email protected]; SMS only 234-8033043009)