eBy Suleiman Umaru and Latef Adegbite
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who may have won the heart of officials of the World Bank/International Monetary Organisation, IMF, including other Multi-lateral Financial Institutions over fuel subsidy removal and unification of the country’s multiple exchange rates which had defiled efforts by the former Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration to do so but seen in bad light by Nigerians.
It is not surprising why Tinubu, Lagos state born Nigerian President may have lost the confidence of Nigerians as the subsidy removal has hit hard on vulnerable Nigerians, traders and transporters who are no longer finding it funny. This is because the price of the product has jumped from N190.00 per litre, inherited from the immediate past Buhari led government to between N600.00 and N700.00, in many states of the Federation.
Abdullahi Sule, governor of the North central state of Nasarawa , who had said that the Buhari’s Administration spent over $19 billion to repair the country’s moribund refineries Llocated in Onne, near PorthHarcourt, Capital of Rivers state, Warri and the north western geopolitical region city of Kaduna with a total combined refining capacity of 425,000 b/d, may have hit the nail on the head when he said that the Nigeian government could no longer control the pump price of petrol because of the deregulation of the industry.
Hear him: You cannot determine the price of a product you don’t have. The Nasarawa state governor who could not hide his feelings had said that that Nigeria is importing the product at the world market where many things happen. He alluded to the fact that ‘’if there is some kind of crisis in the Middle East and if the price of a barrel of crude oil jumps to $ $200, the price of a litre of petrol will also jump,
He noted that between 1999 and 2000, when the price of a barrel of crude oil was $10, the price of a litre of petrol came down as low as N100.00 per litre. Governor Sule may have prepared the mind of Nigerians to be ready for another increase in the pump price of petrol as the price of crude oil increases in the international oil market.
While the NNPC officials would be pleased for the price of crude rising in the international oil market, Nigerians groan under the pain of the subsidy removal in a country where minimum wage was as low as N30,000.00 per month and inflation has hit the sky roof of 27 percent.
A senior Customs officer, who spoke to The Value News on phone had compared what the situation is under the Tinubu’s Administration, barely two months in office to the eight years Administration of the former Katsina state born Nigerian President. He had said that he N9,000.00 to fill his vehicle tank in May, 2023, during the Buhari’s Administration but spent N27,000.00 in June 2023, no sooner the former Lagos state governor mounted the saddles as the President of Nigeria and took the two bold economic policies of removing fuel subsidy and unified the country’s multiple foreign exchange rates which was applauded in world/IMF ,circleso to fill his thank.
He has made his monthly budgetary provision to fill his vehicle tank that could serve him on a weekly basis when NNPCL suddenly announced a new price of the product , which made mockery of the monthly provision. The senior Customs officer saw himself now spending N433,000.00 to fill hill vehicle tank , in a country where the minimum wage is N30,00.00 and price of goods and services are rising phenomenally on a daily basis.
While Nigerians cry over the increasing price of the pump price of petrol, Governor Sule, who had said that crude oil prices in the international oil market would continue to dictate the pump price of petroleum products: petrol, Automotive Gas Oil, popular, diesel, Dual Purpose Kerosene, DPK, and Aviation fuel, sold in Nigeria, in the months ahead, he had said that in the country is even much better than what is happening in some West and Central African countries where the product sells for over N1,000.00 per litre.
He may have alluded to Benin Republic, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroum. May believe that a litre of petrol could sell as much as overN1,000.00 in the neighbouring West African countries and Cameroun because the VIP , petrol smugglers, across the nation’s porous borders no longer consider it profitable to engage in the nefarious with the tight security mounted by the Customs interventionists unit personnel across the country, particular’ the Federal Operations unit, FOU, who are everywhere across the country.
T Wale Adeniyi, acting Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Services, NCS, during a recent visit to the Villa, was said to have to have told Tinubu that as part of efforts to further enhance the nation’s border security and regional integration , to forestall the activities of smugglers, he plans to visit his Beninois Counterpart, to engage in discussions with their Customs Administration.
He had said that the aim of the visit is ‘’to foster collaboration , address border security concerns , facilitate trade across the border and explore technological solutions to complex border challenges.At a recent visit to the Seme/Krake joint Border community between Nigeria and Benin Republic , the Customs Comptroller General had told residents of the Border Community that opening the Borders fully for free movement of goods and services depend on the readiness of the residents to Cooperate with the Customs and other security agencies personnel in combating security and smuggling of Contraband in and out of the country.
He was said to have made the people to understand that both the Customs and the security agencies operatives need intelligence from the residents of the Border Communities on the nefarious activities of the smugglers , and to properly protect the border areas against smuggling of foreign rice, vehicles and other prohibited itemsinto Nigeria from the neighbouring countries or smuggling of petrol from Nigeria to these countries.
Given that the subsidy removal expected to bring the product sales at par with what obtains in the neighbouring countries is hitting hard on the alleged poor Nigerians may informed have why Tinubu’s government has concluded plans o to implement some of the populism programmes put in place by the former Buhari’s Administration in the eventual removal of the subsidy to mitigate the hardship.
The former Administration had secured a World Bank grant of $8,000 million to disburse to about 10 million households, equivalent to about 10 million Nigerians and who going by the then President’s Buhari and the National Economic Council, NEC’s calculations belong to the most vulnerable category of the country.
The former Nigerian President may not have removed the fuel subsidy because the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections was just around the corner but had left it for his predecessor, Tinubu to disburse the funds to the poor Nigerians on a monthly basis of N8,000.00 each. He had secured Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state led Senate to transfer N8,000.00 per month to 60 million households, with a multiplier effect of 12 million individuals.
The Tinubu’s Administration was said to be initially working on the list of the 10 million households across the country,that was said to have been handed over to him by the Buhari’s Administration for implementation.
Governor Sule had said that the N8,000.00 may not be too much money to some people but is a lot to so many other people who are really from very poor families that don’t see N8,000.00 every month. He may have had his reservation with the Buhari’s list as he has said that the only thing the present government need to do is ‘’to identify those families before making the transfers to ghost households would claim much of the money for the six months it was meant to be paid to the beneficiaries.
He had said that in home state , Nasarawa, the government is sharing N5,000.00 every month to poor households, noting that there were some communities in the state also that were able to do some kind of contributions and are able to do a lot in their various communities.
It was not surprising why he had said that N8,000.00 monthly stipend for 12 million Nigerians in the next six months from the $8,00 million World Bank facility would go a long way to solving the problems of many poor families in the country.