By Late Adegbite
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and now President and Commander –In-Chief of the Ngerian Armed Forces, appears to have taken advantage of a reception organised in his honour by the Lagos state government at the Lagos House , Marina , to speak out on why he opted ‘’to unify the official and parallel market rates and remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, at the early stages of his administration’’.
The outspoken Lagos state born Nigerian President may have indicted the past Nigerian Leaders, both the jackboot and elected, of sharing in the benefit by participating in the arbitrage when said that he could not afford ‘’ to share such a benefit but to save the country from financial haemorrhage’’.
The former Lagos state governor was said to have made it clear to those that cares that ’’the economic decisions taken so far by his Administration will ‘’reform the country’s economy and remove all impediments of growth’’. He has admitted that the country is going through some rough challenges, particular, ‘’the struggling economy and simmering security challenges’’, stressing that they are not unsurmountable
He opined that his Administration decided to stop the immediate payment of subsidy on petrol in the nation’s best interest. Tinubu, who stopped short at calling the marketers economic saboteurs when he stated that the situation that forced queues to return filling stations across the major parts of the country is over.
the government was said to have approved the issuance of licenses to six new companies to import Petroleum Products into the country, as a way to break the monopoly of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptized Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly, which has been signed into Law, in August 2021, by the former Katsina state born Nigerian President.
Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director, of Nigeria Mainstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDRA, had said that apart from the newly approved six firms, by the Tinubu’s government to compete with NNPCL, in the importation of PMS, and other products ,into the country , several companies had applied for permit to be involved in the importation of petroleum products into the Nigerian market in due course.
Farouk, the NMDRA, helmsman had said that the newly approved six companies which have been given approval by the government to import fuel has expressed their willingness to tart full scale importation of products in July 2023, meaning that they have been able to have access the North American country of the United States, US, dollar, which was the exclusive preserve of the NNPCL, in the past.
Recall that in 2016, Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Industries, believed to be the richest man in the African Continent was said to have gotten $2billion allocation from the Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN, under Godwin Emefiele, the then governor, who is now in the custody of the Department of State Security, DSS, by processing Form A’ to import intangible goods.
He was said to have got the US dollars allocation from the apex bank at the cheapest rate, allegedly moved it out of the country to buy equipment to establish factories in other African countries. The multi-billionaire business mongul and others like him were alleged to have simply round-tripped the US, dollars gotten from the CB, and made several more billions of dollars from it.
The Dangote Industries was said to have used the multi-billionaire connections to borrow $3billion from the CBN, to build a 650,000 b/d capacity , refinery and petrochemical plant at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, LFTZ, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre which evidently cost $3.8 billion to build, according to The Value News findings . The Dangote refinery and petrochemical plant has been valued to have cost about $14 billion during the Commissioning by the former Nigerian President in May 22, 2023, barely one week to handover to the incoming government of Tinubu of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
The worry of many was that the trio of the then Katsina state born Nigerian President, Mele Kolo Kyari, Mananaging Director of NNPCL, and the erstwhile CBN , governor, did not find it find it necessary to pump enough forex to rehabilitate the country’s four refineries located at Onne,near PortHarcourt , the Rivers state Capital, Warri and Kaduna which are working in bits and fits but opted to buy 20% shares valued at about $2.2.65 billion in the Dangote’s refineries that was only 80% completed as at the time of Commissioning last May.
The World Bank, which has been at the vanguard for the removal of subsidy on PMS, importation into the country by NNPCL, and the unification of the exchange rates, since 2015, until it was finally removed by the Tinubu’s Administration on May 29, 2023, has projected that the country would achieve estimated fiscal gains of about N4 trillion this 2023. The bank may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when it stated further that the fiscal gains are projected to hit the N21 trillion mark between this 2023 and 2025.
Notwithstanding, the appluase inubu’s Administration have continued to receive both within and outside the country and even among the Multilateral Financial Institutions with the removal of the subsidy on Petrol and the unification of the country’s multiple exchange system, Shehu Garba, a former Senior Special Assistant to Buhari, on Media and Publicity, appears to be uncomfortable that Tinubu is getting al all the commendations for taking the bold economic decisions in n the early stage of Administration whereas, Buhari could not do it within the eight years in office.
In an emotional outburst, the Buhari Aide, had lamented that ‘’no responsible Leader would have removed the fuel subsidy forcefully the way the former Lagos state governor has done it to add to the economic pains of the people.
According to him the former Nigerian President has the opportunity of removing the subsidy on petrol as he did on Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, popular, diesel, Dual Purpose Kerosene, DPK or Kerosene, Aviation fuel and Fertilizer, as well as the unification of the exchange rates which touches the life of many but remained hesitant to do so until the time is ripe for it.
There was no gain saying the fact that the inability of the immediate past Nigerian President to take the bull by the horn to remove the subsidy on fuel importation into the country and the unification of the country’s multiple exchange rates ostensibly to avoid stepping on the toes of a powerful cabal controlling the nation’s economy was a dent on the Administration.
Subhan Chadhuri, the World Bank, country Director, in Nigerian , may have summed up the implications of the Buhari’s Administration not unifying the country’s exchange rates by the Buhari’s Administration to the fact that ‘’it impeded investment and growth in the nation’s economy’’ as well as ’’contributed to inflation and undermined efficiency of monetary and fiscal policies for his eight years in office’’.
The former Lagos state governor, who is not yet done with the economic reforms has vowed that his Administration will bring Nigeria out from’’ the brink of resilient economy’’. Speaking philosophically, he has urged Nigerians to partner with his Administration to rescue the country from financial haemorrphage and make it a’’ born-again nation’’.
Appealing to Nigerians in Diaspora, to be patriotic and restore their confidenceto Nigeria, he averred that ‘’ the country will go through the baby steps of faith to arrive at a positive destination’’ as the new government’’ move along’’.
Femi Gbajiabiamila, a former Speaker, House of Representatives and now Chief of Staff, to President Tinubu, had said that’’ the weight of Nigeria cannot be carried by an ordinary human being without Divine’s intervention’’, stressing ‘’the country will overcome the current difficult economic and security challenges under the present Leadership of Tinubu and his team.
He may have alluded to the fact that Tinubu is working day and night to solve the myriads of challenges facing the country when he gave an insight of the major economic decisions taken by the Administration so far.
In a related development, Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition Labour Party, LP, during the February 25, 2023, Presidential election , would want Tinubu, to do more to save Nigeria from financial dehydration by ‘’drastically cutting down on the cost of governance at the at the Federal level, and invest in different aspects of human development that would improve the life of the people.
Until the former Anambra state governor volunteered to give the unsolicited advice to Tinubu, who is slugging out with him at the Presidential Election Tribunal, PECT, over the 2023, Presidential election alleged to have been rigged and manipulated by the ruling APC, in connivance with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Tinubu was said to have risen up to the challenge.
The Budget office of the Federation, at the instance of the President was said to have sent a memo, to the 89 Professional bodies and Councils funded by the Federal government that it will no longer be business as usual in order to start looking for ways on how ‘’to become self- funding without going cap in hand begging the government for support.
Ben Akubueze, Director General of the Budget office of the Federation, in a letter sent to the over 80 affected Professional bodies and Councils , dated June 26, 2023, had said that ‘’the move was in line with the decision of the Presidential Committee On Salaries, PCS.
The Budget office Director General had confirmed that 30 of the Professional bodies and Councils will stop getting budgetary allocations from the government by December 31, 2024 while the other affected professional bodies and Councils would stop getting their own subventions from the government by December 31, 2026.
Some of the Professional bodies and Councils which funding are expected to be terminated by the Tinubu’s Administration by December 31, 2024, include Nigeria Press Council, NPC; Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON; Veterinary Council of Nigeria; Nigerian Institute of Soil Science, NISS, Headquarters; Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria; Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria; Council For the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Council of Nigeria,CRFF; Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscience; Survey Council of Nigeria; Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN; Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria; Computer Registration Council of Nigeria and Librarians Registration Council of Nigeria.
This is in addition to the Radiographers Registration Board; Health Records Registration Board ; Institute of Chartered Chemist of Nigeria; Nursing and Midwifery Council; Pharmacist Council of Nigeria; Medical And Dental Council of Nigeria; National Council on Climate Change and Dental Technologies Registration Board, among others.
The Professional bodies and Councils that may stop getting budgetary allocations from the government by while the National Council of Arts and Culture will stop getting the government subventions by December 31, 2025, according to Akubueze, the Director General, Budget office of the Federation was the National Council of Arts and Culture while the Nigerian Council Food Science and technology will no longer be funded from the government treasury from December 31, 2026.
There is no gain saying the fact that some of these professional bodies and Councils, have remained a drain- pipe on the country’s meagre resources over the years, without generating any revenue to be paid into the Federation Account.
Akubueze, an informed source had told the online Magazine has told Management of the affected Professional bodies and Councils that given the government decision not to make any yearly budgetary allocations to them between 2024 and December 31, 2026, that ‘’ they will be regarded as self –funded Organisation by the government ‘’to be fully responsible for their personnel, overhead costs and capital expenditures’’.
Many see this economic decision as another bold initiative by the Tinubu’s Administration to drastically cut the cost of governance and save money for the government that would be channeled to the Educational and Health sectors of the economy.
Funny enough, the Council for Legal Education, and Environment Health Teachers Tutors –Ibadan, were said to have escaped Tinubu’s cost saving hammer as the two Organisations , Akubueze, the Director General, Budget office of the Federation, Confirmed, will continue be funded by the Federal government.