‘Tinubu paying fuel subsidy without legislative backing’

*Fuel dispenser nozzle.

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — As the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit hits N1,000 per litre, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration is still paying subsidy on petrol, even when fuel subsidy was not captured in the 2024 budget, an Energy Marketing Expert, Dr Joseph Obele has said.

Obele alluding to the comment by the former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai, where the former governor claimed that over N8 trillion may have been spent by the Tinubu administration to subsidize petrol; said re-introduction of fuel subsidy was not a surprise to stakeholders in the downstream sector.

The former IPMAN Chairman in Rivers State said paying fuel subsidies without legislative backing was questionable, however, complete removal of subsidy at the time economic inflation in the country was standing tall at over 33.5 per cent would further inflict hardship on Nigerians.

He said, “In Nigeria today, the price of petrol which is sold for between N600 to N700, should have been higher than diesel rate, presently sold at over N1,000, if not for the subsidy that the current administration is paying.

“Fuel subsidy began in the 1970s and became institutionalised in 1977, following the promulgation of the Price Control Act which was aimed at reducing the cost impact on the citizens. While the concept of subsidy itself is noble, its administration in Nigeria has been plagued with serious corruption and mismanagement.

“Mr President in his inaugural address had told Nigerians that the era of fuel subsidy is gone. Hence the 2024 budget has no fuel subsidy provision in it, it will be questionable for any government agency to make any payment of such.

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“NNPC Ltd as the sole importer of refined petroleum products into Nigeria is not a charity organisation. At the moment, the landing cost for imported PMS is over N1,000 per litre and it is selling about N600 to N700. The difference is supposed to be called subsidy, alas we are still opening the dictionary to get appropriate name for it, since they (government) forbid the word ‘subsidy’.”

Obele who is also a lecturer at the Department of Marketing, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Port Harcourt, said until the government was ready to close the rackets at the international market, by fixing the nation’s four refineries to operate optimally, it will continue to shortchange Nigerians through fuel subsidy, irrespective of the nomenclature attached to the heist.

“It is obvious that the recent tension between Israel and Iran will further worsen the price of petroleum products in the international market and it is another wake-up call to the government of Nigeria to fix our four owned refineries in a no distant time so that we can commence local refining, by that the external events at the international market will not much impact on us.

“The NNPC boss mentioned four weeks ago that the Port Harcourt refinery will commence operations in two weeks, but he failed.

“I think there is something that they the (government) enjoy from buying petrol at the international market. Until they are ready to close the rackets at the international market, then our local refineries will commence operations.”

This article was originally posted at sweetcrudereports.com

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