By Willie Amadi.
For taking the bull by the horn on May 29th during his inaugural speech, I am honestly delighted and convinced that Nigeria will experience an era of governance of common sense and empathy in the coming years under his leadership. For that immediate action I pray to Almighty God to to guard his decisions and direct his footsteps towards similar national challenges that have bedevilled and defied genuine national solutions due to greed, political, ethnic and religious considerations by past leaders aided and confused by the cabals of that government. A Daniel may have come at last.
Painfully and regrettably, at an annual payment of over N6.5 trillion naira for the payment of a subsidy to unknown importers and unknown quantity of petroleum supplied to Nigerian Petroleum Corporation, that surprisingly till date neither know how many barrels of crude oil is sold nor the quantity of the so-called petroleum supplied to the country under the subsidy obviously presented a heart-warming feat to many Nigerians. Many thanks to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for resisting the pressures and lures of political support by the subsidy cabal through the immediate pronouncement of the exit of the age long criminal subsidy regime deliberately given a legal toga but used as a conduit pipe in siphoning our revenue while the nation and her citizens bleeds.
It is a notorious fact that the National Assembly in the 2023 Annual Budget appropriation did not provide for payment of subsidy beyond July 2023 as it appropriated only for the month ending in June 2023. This lacuna left a huge trap for the new administration to either condone the fraud circus by sending a bill for a supplementary budget to the 10th Assembly for appropriation and continuation of the fraud on poor Nigerians who actually bear the brunt of the subsidy but incidentally unknown to them. Fortunately, and luckily for Nigerians, the President, a cat with nine lives saw through the trap and neutralised it with his sudden declaration that the “SUBSIDY IS GONE” to a mixed shock and disbelief of all and sundry particularly the cabal.
The economic analysis and gains of that pronouncement will be witnessed in the months ahead because it is widely believed and rightly too by those who understand the level of embezzlement and damage associated with the so called payment of petroleum subsidy to unknown Nigerians that Mr. President could not have under any reasonable guise or imagination taken that decision out of any wicked desire or motive to hurt or punish his fellow Nigerians to whom he swore to protect and defend under the constitution. I strongly believe that his early decision was deliberately taken to avoid and or prevent the vultures who had fed fat on the subsidy money from activating the sentiments and mobilising the gullible stakeholders to blackmail the government through propaganda thereby postponing the removal and also encourage endless engagements between government and the vulnerable but uninformed stakeholders to arm twist government for their sole benefits. However, that gavel on 29th May by Mr. President showed and displayed the audacity and courage reminiscent of his NADECO days exploits and brought a finality to the subsidy game. We thank God for that gift of foresight, common sense and courage.
With the end of this brazen and organised looting and wastage of our commonwealth by a yet to be identified few unpatriotic Nigerians, the payment of over N6.5 trillion naira can now be gainfully deployed to address the vexed and nagging issues of of ASUU, NARD, AVIATION and other critical infrastructures. Many verified claims of these and other critical agencies of government begging for immediate attention can be resolved with the money. Currently, the inevitable salary increase of workers including a well organised and structured palliatives regime for citizens suffering from multiple dimensional poverty ratings proposed by Mr. President will immediately protect them as major beneficiaries of the gains of the subsidy exit.
Politically and economically, the renewed Hope administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu having cleared this mess owe the nation a sacred duty. That duty is to without delay present to the Nation a comprehensive list of all the beneficiaries of this fraudulent subsidy network for Nigerians to know as well as presenting all statistical evidence of the supply of the fuel subsidy and it’s delivery to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a corporation that has unbelievably been unable to account for receipts and payments under the subsidy scheme and even surprisingly unable to provide accurate account of the daily production of crude oil in the country. It is on this basis amongst others that Nigerians call on the TINUBU administration to initiate an investigation into the activities of NNPC, using international accounting firms to carry out real auditing under best international practices so that Nigeria and Nigerians will start breathing again. The outcome of this investigation will obviously be an exposure of the damage the cabal and looters occasioned on our commonwealth. This will activate immediate recovery of the looted funds through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Police. It will also act as a deterrent for the managers and operators in our oil and gas industry in future.
Furthermore, the timing of the announcement of this subsidy removal which luckily coincided with the commissioning of Dangote Refineries in Lagos is providential and blessing to our nation. At the average price of N550 per litre of fuel across the country, it is possible that when Dangote Refinery comes on stream in August 2023, the price of petroleum products will lower tremendously through the intervention of the market forces. This is mainly because other cost of importation such as shipping, haulage, insurance and other charges may not be factored into the cost of pricing because the Refinery and its product are located within less than five hundred kilometres radius from the point of loading and lifting of the product. The timing of that Presidential pronouncement therefore couldn’t have come at a better time.
Finally, it is extremely important that government should timeously dialogue with Labour unions and other critical stakeholders in order to quickly navigate the murky waters of institutional and civil disobedience arising from an avoidable deadlock that is looming. It will be a win-win situation for the rest of the country if government amicably resolves the implementation and operational mortalities for enforcing the removal of the subsidy with Labour since both parties are partners in the progress, wellbeing and prosperity of Nigerians.
It is my fervent prayer that this decision to implement the cessation of the subsidy regime and successful dialogue with Labour and other critical stakeholders will usher in a stable and prosperous economic polity where both the Presidency and the citizens will buy one, and also get one free to the glory of the administration and God.
I wish the administration well and pray for God’s continued protection and direction in the years ahead.
Willie Amadi writes from Owerri.