A deaf and dumb fuel problem in Nigeria

Posted: June 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

Out of the US1billion dollar I got from the oil block, I have USD500 million left which I do not know what to spend it on”–Gen T.Y Danjuma (rtd).

I once watched bemused, a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mom with a stranger in bed try to narrate his mom’s act of demeanor.

When his father came home, the ‘poor’ young lad was at loss on how to communicate his discovery. After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father on the other hand patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbours or the family doctor?

This is a repetition of my admonition to Nigerians in 2011 when we were on the fuel subsidy magic…with the recent fuel scarcity or strike by marketers. Sooner than later we will be forced to face the music again.

What exactly is deregulation, how exactly does these subsidy thing work…I have talked to government officials, petroleum marketers, a few ‘big boys’ in NNPC, and a couple of egg heads.

oil and gas

Truth is that they do not know, or better still they know but cannot really explain it.

Former Nigerian Central Bank chief now Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi tried, Ngozi Iweala explained, Falana disagreed, Otedola and Farouk dramatized. Nigerians demonstrated in occupational ways…Former president Jonathan reacted in un-SURE manner.

For seven years former president Obasanjo held sway as CEO of the petroleum ministry yet nothing new happened. Diezani’s highpoint remained loads of controversies true, exaggerated and false.

All the grammar whether it was remove subsidy, create SURE-P, pass PIB Bill, green or white refineries, turnaround or upside down maintenance: it all remains an inability of a system to solve a problem because a strong group of persons are benefiting from that problem. It also is an indictment reflective of the faulty planning by those in charge, that’s if they plan at all.

A simple question is how has fellow oil-producing nations successfully dealt with their petroleum needs.

A friend suggested why don’t we go to Angola, Venezuela, or Brazil and just steal their blueprint, its working for them, let’s just stop this subsidies and deregulation grammar and deceit of subsidies and duplicate their success, localize it for the collective good of Nigerians, but off course the term ‘collective good’ is an alien term to us.

No number of essays, commentaries can explain the impact of fuel, cooking oil and diesel to the economy; it’s like explaining the impact of constant electricity to national life. These are terms those in power do not seem to grasp; the reasons are way simple too…one, they have big power generating plants in their homes and offices. Two, some of them cannot really recall when last they were on a fuel queue.

The NLC died a long time ago courtesy of an Obasanjo inspired poisoning, aided by greed of those put at the helm of its activities.

Nineteen fuel price increases since 1978, five times it was reduced minimally but hiked backed almost immediately. From N8.45K in 1978 to N65 in 2009 representing an increase of almost 60,000% and the trend has continued.

In 1978 when the first increase was announced, one of the reasons given was that a majority of petroleum users were using it for pleasure, and there was a need to bring discipline into society.

Strange thinking, another reason was that as at that time, N95M was being spent a year for subsidies.

How much are we spending today on subsidies, where is this money coming from, how does this subsidy thing work, how can you deregulate when your refineries are not working.

The top echelon of the society cannot explain to Nigerians, exactly, the reason why we cannot buy fuel at an affordable price for three years in a stretch without scarcity. Not every Nigerian is a novice to the political, economic or social implications of oil pricing. However the ordinary Nigerian suffers this failure and complacency of leadership.

Just few years back, we lost a comrade in Maiduguri courtesy protesting a fuel hike.

16 years of democracy, and billions in petrol dollars earned, we cannot build a refinery, we cannot even repair or successful do 100% turn around maintenance of the ones we have.

Subsidies and deregulation means the price will ultimately fall or money will be channeled to other areas of the economy, in local parlance…’our leaders like to mumu us’. When the broadcast industry deregulated we saw the instant benefits, same applies to telecoms (although we pay some of the highest tariffs in the world) we saw and are still seeing the benefits. But once you hear same term in the petroleum sector and its sister electricity, it’s like it stands for disappearance of the commodity and when it reappears its price increases.

Who are those responsible for the billions and trillions that disappear in subsidies, who are the few that want to punish the majority? What became of Farouk and that video of dollar stuffed cap…that Dry cleaning firm that was into importing fuel…etc.

Why is it that this policy to a large population of Nigerians is simply a tightening of the screw of poverty, no massive improvement of our colonial rail system, nothing like free education or healthcare, and no social security, or unemployment benefits?
The trend remains high petrol price, weak naira, low minimum wage and increasing poverty, when one man makes a profit of USD500million just like that and questions are not asked, we will remain where we are…

Transportation fare increases, no, gas, no electricity and food prices sky rocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers, like the deaf and dumb boy, his mother, the stranger and his father.

The Buhari administration has a big task ahead…Congratulations to the team, welcome on board Nigeriana, the dinner is done, the whining,‎ and complaining won’t be an excuse…whether there are probes or probables…will it be “CHANGI-DOLE” or business as usual–Only time will tell.

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