Former presidential candidate, Dumebi Kachikwu, recently addressed Nigerians in an open letter expressing his concerns about the misuse of petroleum subsidy in the country.
He emphasized the need for immediate action to address the issue, shedding light on the benefits and drawbacks of removing the subsidy while stressing the importance of accountability and transparency in the petroleum sector.
Kachikwu posed critical questions to the Nigerian Labour Congress regarding their previous inaction during President Buhari’s tenure and sought clarification on the removal of petroleum subsidy.
PAIN AND GAIN
Our nation is once again at a critical juncture, a place and position we have been many times. Nigerians are being asked to sacrifice their livelihoods and way of life to accept more pain in the hope of future gain.
Most Nigerians want to know why they must pay such a huge cost for a resource given freely by God to their nation. Surely God didn’t make a mistake in depositing humongous amounts of hydrocarbons within the borders of our nation.
Today we face the threats of labour strikes because our government has taken the difficult decision to remove subsidy.
Like some other presidential candidates in the last general elections, I campaigned on the removal of subsidy in one form or the other.
Our President, faced with mounting debts, a collapsing economy and monumental fraud in the subsidy scheme, announced to Nigerians at his inauguration that President Buhari had left him a dangerous banana peel by failing to provide for subsidy in the budget beyond June of the year 2023 and as such he had no option but to let Nigerians know subsidy had ended.
As expected, many Nigerians have faulted his decision especially as he failed to mention his plans to cushion the effects of this decision on the already suffering masses.
A politicised Nigerian Labour Congress has now joined the cacophony of voices in calling for nationwide strikes to press home their demand for a reversal of the president’s decision.
I have therefore decided to pose the following questions to the Nigerian Labour Congress:
1. Who removed petroleum subsidy; President Buhari who failed to budget for it or President Tinubu who announced that it wasn’t budgeted
2. If it was President Buhari as it is obvious to all why didn’t the N C react appropriately when he was in office?
3. If petroleum subsidy has been removed because of massive fraud in the implementation of the scheme what did the highly organised unions in the petroleum sector do to expose and identify those behind this fraud in the last 15 years?
4. The Federal Government should reclassify the subsidy removal as a temporary suspension of petroleum subsidy which will be in place for a period of three to six months to allow government to restructure the subsidy program.
5. The Federal Government should work in tandem with the state governments to do the following while the subsidy suspension lasts: fund transport voucher schemes, provide hardship allowance to the socially and physically disadvantaged, workers and students, activate mass transit schemes and provide direct subsidies to structured transport companies.
4. The Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency should be alive to its responsibility and put in place a framework that ensures only major bonded fleeting companies with the appropriate technology that guarantees a seamless transfer and monitoring of products from point of load to point of discharge are allowed to carry subsidized petroleum products when and if petroleum is reintroduced.
Fleeting companies should have colour coded trucks tied to specific regions of operation for easy identification of rogue elements. All trucks must be fitted with digital locks whose digital keys can only operate at the geo located registered point of discharge.
In conclusion, we must all understand how subsidy abuse happens. The NPCL provides products to marketers at subsidized rates. The marketers pick up from the vessels directly or from any N C L nominated or designated land tank. From the point of pick up a marketer who by the established pricing template is supposed to make 330,000 from a truck of PMS when sold in Nigeria carries it across the border and makes a minimum of N16,000,000 for the same product. Those who get coastal allocations and are able to roundtrip it make an average of $10,000,000 per allocation.
This economic crime is done in full view and in active connivance with some NPCL
officials, custom officials, and other officials of government from agencies in this ecosystem.
President Tinubu must now cleanse this sector if his administration is to succeed.
We can’t all suffer for the crimes of a few. President Tinubu must also call the bluff of a politicised and compromised NIC who in their silence all these years aided and abetted those who stole from the Nigerian people. President Tinubu, like many other Nigerians, I hope to see very soon the gain in this pain.
Former Presidential Candidate of
The African Democratic Congress
June 05, 2023