Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, has said the federal government is not telling Nigerians the whole truth as it concerns the payment of fuel subsidy.
The issue of subsidies which the Muhammadu Buhari administration had claimed to have eradicated previously, came back into the conversation this week when Vice president Yemi Osinbajo said it is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and not the FG that now bears the cost of subsidy.
In separate statements the PDP and the governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose, asked the Vice President and the Nigerian government to come clean on the issue and share the truth with Nigerians.
First, the PDP:
Through a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, the PDP said:
“Is it not also ridiculous for the federal government in its bid to cover for its ineptitude and oil subsidy corruption to announce that it is not paying for the so called fuel subsidy?
“The question is: who owns the NNPC? Is it not Nigeria? Can NNPC spend a kobo without the authorization of the Presidency? Has President Muhammadu Buhari ceased to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Minister of Petroleum Resources?
“Moreover, if NNPC which is under his purview has been paying fuel subsidy, who authorized the payment and who are the beneficiaries? Nigerians need to know the truth on this subsidy regime.”
Fayose made a similar argument in a statement signed by his aide, Lere Olayinka:
“I like the Vice President, he is a pastor and I don’t believe that he will also join others in Buhari’s government to lie to Nigerians. However, this one that he presented NNPC as an agency of the federal government that can allocate fund without the approval of the president is very strange to me.
“If subsidy is being paid by the NNPC as claimed by Vice President Osinbajo, where is the money coming from? Is it from sales of crude oil? Does it now mean that the NNPC is spending part of the proceeds of the sale of crude oil outside allocation to the federal government by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC)?”
And then they presented some of Pres. Buhari’s receipts and claims made during the last electioneering season:
First, the PDP, which accused Buhari of lies, manipulations and incompetence:
“It was convenient for the APC Presidency to promise Nigerians that it will no longer import fuel only because the PDP government had already laid the foundation including revamping the refineries and ensuring a domestic production of 5 million litres out of the 25 million litres daily domestic consumption.
“Sadly this incompetent APC government, in its almost three years has not added one litre to the five million litres which the PDP administration was producing,” the PDP said.
And then Fayose had even more:
“We were all in this country in 2012 when chieftains of the APC, including President Buhari led protests across the country against removal of fuel subsidy.
“Before he became President, Buhari maintained that fuel subsidy never existed and when he became President, he said he did not know what fuel subsidy meant.
“We were also in Nigeria in May 2016, when the federal government announced the removal of subsidy on petrol and went on to increase the pump price of petrol to N145 per litre. The same APC people, who protested against removal of subsidy and increment of petrol price to N140 in 2012, defended the removal in 2016 and increment of pump price to N145.
“In 2017 budget of the federal government, provision was not made for the payment of fuel subsidy, so also that of 2018. So where is the N26 they are subsidizing one litre of petrol with coming from? Is the Buhari-led government spending fund not appropriated by the National Assembly?“
The big challenge as most objective analysts see it is that the subsidy regime has to go but with elections close by, it is doubtful that the Buhari administration will risk expending its depleting goodwill on the removal of fuel subsidy.
In his column today, Thisday Editorial Board chairman, Olusegun Adeniyi said: “While I am well aware it is a bit more complicated now, especially with growing anger and coming elections, the present arrangement will not rid us of fuel queues in 2018, except government finds a way of absorbing the subsidy or devalues the Naira. Therefore, full deregulation, despite its cost, remains the way out. And the longer we delay the decision, the more we keep borrowing from tomorrow.”