… We’ve not found a formula to end fuel subsidy – says FG
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, to use his second term in office to end Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products to meet local consumption.
President of the Union, Prince Williams Akporeha, who spoke in Lagos yesterday, said Nigerians would forever remember President Buhari if he could ensure that the issue of imported petroleum products became a thing of the past before the end of his tenure.
“It is a shame and a serious embarrassment that Nigeria, the 6th leading crude oil producing countries in the world depends on imported products to meet local demands. How long can we continue to live with the issue of subsidy removal and fuel scarcity? How long can we continue to depend on the vagaries of international crude price to determine the prices of the products we consume locally?
“How long will Nigerians continue with this incessant fuel scarcity and fear of fuel scarcity? The report that Nigeria has spent over N6trillion on subsidy for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol in the last few years is a serious concern to us as Nigerians and as NUPENG particularly. Nigerians deserve to enjoy the benefits of being an oil producing country.
“As a Union, NUPENG wants to stress that it will be economically suicidal to completely remove subsidy on PMS without putting in place robust palliatives for the citizenry to cushion the effects on the masses.
“However, NUPENG pleads with President Buhari as a patriot whose love for Nigeria and Nigerians remain undiluted and unquestionable, to use his second term in office to permanently end Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products to meet local demands.
“We are urging Mr President to do all within his powers to ensure that the four public refineries are fully rehabilitated to perform at full capacity, as well as ensure that more refineries come on stream to refine products for not only local consumption, but for export as well.
“If the President can do this, Nigerians will forever remember him and be grateful to him. As a Union, we will give the president all necessary supports required from us to put an end to this shame of depending on imported products for local consumption,” Akporeha said.
Meanwhile, the federal government says it is yet to devise a workable formula for the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, said removal of subsidy would have negative effect on vulnerable Nigerians.
Ahmed explained that while the country appreciates the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), what works for others may not be operable within Nigeria’s context, describing the country as unique.
She said the government is still considering various options and until a decision is reached, no action will be taken.
“In some countries, they provided buses to transport people, in some countries they provide subsidies in a manner that the people that are directly requiring the subsidies.
“We have not found a way to do it. What we are doing now, the subsidy, it is everybody that it benefiting, whereas it is the people who are really vulnerable that need subsidy.
“So, in the executive with the support of the legislature, we have to find a formula that will work for Nigeria. And until we do that, we should not be contemplating removing the subsidy because, indeed when we do, there will be people that will suffer. So, we are not yet there.
“We discussed this periodically under the Economic Management Team but we still haven’t found a formula that works for Nigeria. And you know that Nigeria is unique. What works for Ghana might not work here.
“So, it’s still work in progress for and there is no intention to remove fuel subsidy at this time,” Ahmed said.
It would be recalled that Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF had advised Nigeria and other countries to remove fuel subsidy, saying the money spent on subsidy can be redirected to health and education.
Four days after making the suggestion, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said the landing cost of petrol is now N180 per litre, with the federal government spending N1.86bn on subsidy daily.