In Nigeria where politics is far more tribal than on real national issues. It is very interesting to view the current development concerning fuel subsidy and the paid protesters who occupied the streets of Lagos back then when the immediate past government of Goodluck Jonathan presented the issue. The past president Goodluck Ebelechukwu Jonathan then said that fuel subsidy is not sustainable and if the country continues with it, that it will become bankrupt in three years. The APC, the opposition party saw it as a great slogan to use to blackmail the ruling party PDP. It worked well with their tribal or ethnic fan base. A lot of people in Lagos were paid to kick start a protest, which was later named “Occupy Nigeria”, against the removal of fuel subsidy. Mohammadu Buhari, as an opposition presidential hopeful under APC then said ‘What is fuel subsidy, I don’t know what is fuel subsidy’. Further he said ‘Who is subsidizing who’, referring to the point that there is no fuel subsidy in place and that the government is using it as a ploy to fool the country.
Gen. Buhari’s stand then as APC presidential candidate:
Later, it was upgraded to refine 100,000 barrels a day. Another refinery was built in Port Harcourt to refine 150,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude. So, Port Harcourt alone had the capacity to refine 250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude.
But when I found myself as the Minister of Petroleum I set up another refinery in Warri for 100, 000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude and the Kaduna refinery a 100, 000 barrels per day. So Nigeria built capacity to refine 450,000 a day.
Four Hundred thousands of which is purely Nigerian crude, but 50,000 was imported. The type of crude could be Venezuelan, which could be a bit heavier. But the lighter ones – kerosene, aviation fuel, diesel, PMS of different grades could be produced from our crude because Nigerian crude is about the best in the world.
If you could recall, after finishing as Minister of Petroleum, I subsequently became Head of State. You remember, I appointed Professor Tam David West as the Minister of Petroleum. When we rounded up bunkers, collected their illegal jetties and allowed jetties for only big firms which were doing production and development in the country, we were shocked that we had too much fuel.
We had to begin to export 100,000 barrels per day. Don’t forget that we didn’t stop at building refineries, we built more than 20 depots during my time, from Port Harcourt to Ilorin, Makurdi, Suleija, Maiduguri and Kano. More than 3,000 pipelines were laid to connect them. A number of stations were also built to take the trailers off the road, save lives and the infrastructure on the road. It is more economical because each trailer uses fuel.
We did all that in this country and we didn’t borrow any money as far as I know. It’s Nigerian money. From each Nigerian crude, whether Akwa Ibom, Bonny Light or whatever it is, you can work out how much products it will give you; how much petrol it will give you; how much diesel it will give you if you want to produce diesel. We could tell how much Nigerian crude cost, the cost of transportation from there to the refinery, the cost of refining, the cost of transportation to the pump stations and maybe 5 per cent go for overhead.
I can understand if Nigerians pay for those costs. But somebody is saying he is subsidizing Nigerians. Who is subsidizing who?
President Buhari and APC finally agrees with Goodluck Jonathan government stand on fuel subisdy.
As President Muhammadu Buhari presented a budget of N6.8 trillion, Tuesday, to the joint session of the National Sssembly, National Chairman of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has said the removal of fuel subsidy was inevitable.
He said there was need to restructure the country’s oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and inefficiencies.
Odigie-Oyegun who made the disclosure on Tuesday when he received a delegation of the APC National Coalition for Peace and Mobilization on a courtesy visit to him at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, said the current administration inherited an “infected system of subsidy run by corrupt cartels”.
“In one way or the other, subsidy must go”, he stated at the meeting.
“During electioneering campaign, the APC went around the length and breadth of Nigeria informing the citizen on the ills and mal-administration of the past regime”
He said a situation where the government spends almost a trillion naira yearly on the corruption-tainted subsidy regime is unacceptable and can no longer be sustained.
According to the APC chairman, oil cartels and their cronies resisting change have continued to blackmail and sabotage government on the issue of subsidy, a development that has resulted in the lingering nationwide fuel scarcities despite serious government efforts.
He described the fuel scarcity that the country is currently grappling with as a “national disgrace”.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s view on fuel subsidy then
This is inadvertently exposes the lies of APC during their era as opposition party. They fooled so many Nigerians to believe that Goodluck Jonathan government was lying about the subsidy, when said
” 3.This evening, I address you, again, with much concern over an issue that borders on the national economy, the oil industry and national progress. As part of our efforts to transform the economy and guarantee prosperity for all Nigerians, Government, a few days ago, announced further deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. The immediate effect of this has been the removal of the subsidy on petrol.
4. Since the announcement, there have been mixed reactions to the policy. Let me seize this opportunity to assure all Nigerians that I feel the pain that you all feel. I personally feel pained to see the sharp increase in transport fares and the prices of goods and services. I share the anguish of all persons who had travelled out of their stations, who had to pay more on the return leg of their journeys.
5. If I were not here to lead the process of national renewal, if I were in your shoes at this moment, I probably would have reacted in the same manner as some of our compatriots, or hold the same critical views about government. But I need to use this opportunity as your President to address Nigerians on the realities on the ground, and why we chose to act as we did. I know that these are not easy times. But tough choices have to be made to safeguard the economy and our collective survival as a nation.
6. My fellow Nigerians, the truth is that we are all faced with two basic choices with regard to the management of the downstream petroleum sector: either we deregulate and survive economically, or we continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to undermine our economy and potential for growth, and face serious consequences.
7. As you all know, the subject of deregulation is not new, we have been grappling with it for more than two decades. Previous administrations tinkered with the pump price of petroleum products, and were unable to effect complete deregulation of the downstream sector. This approach has not worked. If it did, we would not be here talking about deregulation today. I understand fully well that deregulation is not a magic formula that will address every economic challenge, but it provides a good entry point for transforming the economy, and for ensuring transparency and competitiveness in the oil industry, which is the mainstay of our economy.
8. As a President, elected and supported by ordinary Nigerians, and the vast majority of our people, I have a duty to bring up policies and programmes that will grow the economy and bring about greater benefits for the people. Let me assure you that as your President, I have no intention to inflict pain on Nigerians.
9. The deregulation of the petroleum sector is a necessary step that we had to take. Should we continue to do things the same way, and face more serious economic challenges? Or deregulate, endure the initial discomfort and reap better benefits later? I want to assure every Nigerian that whatever pain you may feel at the moment, will be temporary.”
Isn’t it very painful that millions of Nigerians got fooled by APC to come out on the street to protest against this issue and used it as their main slogan to oust the past government?
Has Goodluck Ebelechukwu Jonathan again been vindicated?