Connect with us

News

uncertainty-over-christmas-as-nigerian-govt-mulls-subsidy-removal

Published

on

As Christmas is approaching, beautiful decorations have started appearing in major cities, however, one other thing that has started appearing are long queues at filling stations.

As the federal government mull removal of controversial fuel subsidy, filling stations in Abuja have started having long queues in their stations.

Policy somersault on subsidy by Buhari’s administration

Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has struggled to deal with fuel subsidy. Several times, the government had announced the removal of the subsidy regime, only to make a U-turn and continue to pay subsidies, which is now called under-recovery.

In 2016, the government had announced the removal of the subsidy regime when NNPC became the sole importer of PMS. This then changed subsidy to “under-recovery.” However, the price of PMS was jacked to N144 per litre from N93 per litre.

Amid the pandemic, the government again announced the removal of subsidy amid the collapse of the price of crude oil in the international market as the country implemented COVID-19 measures. The price of PMS declined to N118 per litre. Ultimately, it skyrocketed to N162 per litre as most countries reopened their economies and oil rebound.

The inability to maintain a position on subsidy could be traced to the prior position of Mr Buhari on the matter of subsidy. In 2011, as candidate of the CPC, he had said, “Nigerians are being deceived on the issue of fuel subsidy, The federal government takes out fuel for refining, only to come back and talk of removing the subsidy. That is nonsense and an attempt by a clique with the PDP-led federal government to siphon the proceeds to be realized from the removal of oil subsidy”.

Mr Buhari, who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, later backed the removal of subsidy after he emerged as the President.

Ever since, the administration has been grappling with subsidy. Last year, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, said Nigeria consumes as high as 103 million litres per day. The revelation led to a policy of preventing sales of fuel to border communities along the Nigerian border corridor.

It would be recalled that the Comptroller General of Customs, Ali Hameed, had during an appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum, said the policy of shutting down border will not address smuggling, rather, the NNPC should establish NNPC fuel retail outlets in Neighbouring countries, where they can sell fuel.

Christmas and fuel subsidy

The Buhari’s administration had pride itself on being able to ensure PMS is always available during the Yuletide season. However, this recent plan of subsidy removal is casting a shadow on the season.

2021 Christmas is already bedevilled by series of issues as earlier reported by DAILY POST. Due to the Omicron variant and the travel ban by the United Kingdom and others, Nigerians in the diaspora are going to be unable to visit their families, while Nigerians in Nigeria, are equally wary of travelling due to the general insecurity across the country.

An economist, Abiodun Ayangbemi, who spoke with DAILY POST, explained that as it stands, two factors make the timing of the removal ill-advised.

He said, “With the rate of inflation in the country, particularly food commodities,” adding fuel subsidy removal to the equation will be detrimental because “transportation is a major determinant of prices in Nigeria.”

However, he agreed that most often, the rich who have the money to benefit are the ones benefitting from the removal of subsidy.

A transport operator, Idowu Rasak, said even without the fuel scarcity scare, yuletide seasons always experience a spike in the cost of transportation because demand outweighs supply. He noted that with the rate of bad roads, most drivers can only make a single journey per day.

“Passengers are concerned about night travelling because of kidnappers. In the past, some drivers can travel to the East, rest for some hours and still do night journey back to Lagos or Abuja, some will even go back empty, knowing fully well that passengers are waiting for them at the other end.

“But the risk now is huge. Although, as transporters, we still ply those roads every day because we have no other alternatives.

Flight too dare to try

The other option for most Nigerians is travelling by air, which is an option out of the reach of many Nigerians.

A quick check by DAILY POST reveals that the cost of an air ticket from Lagos to Calabar ranges from N42,000 to N60,000. And in some instances, some of the tickets have been sold out completely.

“For most Nigerians, flight is a luxury, not necessity. But with the level of insecurity on our roads, the state of the roads and the accident rate, ordinarily, flight would be considered, but as a family man with children, you will have to buy tickets for three or more,” Yusuf Lateef, an economist said.

He added that, “even the current capacity of domestic flights is limited. It cannot handle surges. Very few Nigerians are using flights in Nigeria, imagine a 20% surge in passengers, lots of airlines will struggle to meet demands.”

N5,000 to 40 million Nigerians

Despite the consequences of subsidy removal, the government’s response is to give 40 million poor Nigerians N5,000 to cushion the effect of the removal.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had last month announced that the government would pay 40 million Nigerians N5,000 each as transport grant to cushion effects of subsidy removal.

Mr Yusuf said the policy shows that the government seems not to understand the ramifications of subsidy and its impact on the economy.

“When fuel is selling for N345 per litre, the multiplier effect will be so significant while N5,000 will be insignificant,” Mr Yusuf said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

There won’t be fuel subsidy removal anytime soon – Nigerian govt

Published

on

The Federal government on Monday said there won’t be any removal of fuel subsidy anytime soon as a result of perceived difficulties associated with it.

Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed stated this at an interactive meeting with the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan and other principal officers of the Senate.

The Minister said, the Federal government was initially looking at the removal of fuel subsidy from July this year, after which they made provisions in the 2022 budget to cushion the effect but noted that the timing has become a huge challenge.

The Finance Minister’s disclosure was at the backdrop of concerns raised by the Senate President who pointed out that there should be caution in the event of subsidy removal so as not to deepen the economic hardships of Nigerians.

Lawan said he visited President Muhammadu Buhari over plans to remove fuel subsidy and so many factors were taken into consideration but with a view to ensuring that the citizens are not at the receiving end.

In her further reaction, the Minister of Finance said her ministry consulted widely and discovered that the federal government cannot go ahead with the removal plans until some steps are taken to protect the interest of Nigerians.

She said: “Let me start by stating that we did make a provision in 2022 budget and which means that there will be fuel subsidy from July.

“After consultations with various stakeholders, it became apparent that the timing became a big problem and Mr President didn’t want that. We are looking at various means either putting our four refineries in order and allowing Dangote Refinery to come on stream.

“It means that we shall submit supplementary budget from July going forward.”

The Senate President had earlier said the country was confronted with the fuel subsidy liabilities but cautioned that the timing of its removal was inappropriate.

He called for the cooperation of stakeholders in the Petroleum industry to cooperate with the government on any step that would be taken, should there be a need to remove fuel subsidy or not, insisting that there was no confusion in government circles.

He also appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), to shelve their planned protest noting that any step taken by the FG with regards to fuel subsidy would be in the interest of the country.

Lawan said: “Admittedly the burden of subsidy is huge and massive and there is a need to do away with it. It needs the cooperation of all of us. Even though the economy is slowing.

“The issue of removal of subsidy should be done with utmost care and the timing should be such the impact would not deepen our woes and Mr. President needs the cooperation of all of us.

“The Minister of Finance is here because she is the one that will provide the money and we must find suitable time and means of getting the issue of removing fuel subsidy finally.

“If we are saying this is not the appropriate time, it should be agreed by all of us so that there won’t be confusion anywhere.

“I appeal to NLC, TUC to shelve the idea of mass protest. It is unnecessary because the removal of fuel subsidy is a necessity.”

In attendance at the meeting were President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva and Chief Executive officers of Petroleum Downstream and Upstream sectors.

 

Continue Reading

News

2023: APC scuttled Electoral Act Amendment Bill for fear of losing election – PDP

Published

on

As reactions continue to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2021, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday said it is part of a plot to rig the 2023 general election.

The PDP said there were other provisions in the document that would naturally sanitize the electoral system and if the document was assented and became functional, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will find it difficult to rig, hence, the Buhari-led government has resorted to cock and bull story.

In a statement on Tuesday which was signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Nebo Ologunagba, PDP recalled how APC planted some lawmakers at the upper and lower legislative Chambers to scuttle the provision that deals with electronic means of transferring election results, but failed to stop it, adding that what they failed to achieve during the parliamentary debates, they have now achieved it at the executive by ensuring the bill wasn’t assented.

“It is instructive to recall that the APC has been in trepidation of the amendment to the Electoral Act, due mainly to the provision of electronic transmission of election results, which will completely eliminate APC’s manipulations and alteration of results at elections.

“It is apparent that the APC and the Buhari Presidency were never committed to the amendment of the Electoral Act to ensure credible elections and as such triggered the controversy of the mode of primaries by political parties as a camouflage to scuttle the entire Amendment Bill including provisions for electronic transmission of results among others,” the party stated.

The PDP insisted that the ruling party was hell bent on rigging the 2023 elections, hence, after the bill was passed into law at both Chambers of the parliament, APC continued to work behind the scene to demonize the document.

“It is imperative to remind Nigerians of how the APC, in collusion with their leaders in the National Assembly fought hard to stop the electronic transmission of results provision in the Bill, but were resisted by Nigerians supported by the courageous action of the PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives which staged a walk out only for the APC to orchestrate controversies and set the stage for the withholding of assent by Mr. President.

“The main reason for this manipulation of the legislative process by the APC, is to prevent the electronic transmission of results so that it can continue in its culture of rigging and electoral impunities including alteration of results at collation, ballot box snatching, destruction of data among others; just to cling to power against the will of Nigerians.

“Such is consistent with the APC’s well-known machination against every genuine effort to instill credible, transparent, free and fair elections in Nigeria in the last six years.

“The APC thrives in electoral scam, duplicity, underhand dealings, violence and political brigandage, all in their heinous script to put Nigerians under perpetual bondage.

“Having been rejected for its failures and having also self-decimated its structure across the country, the APC has completely lost the capacity and goodwill for electoral contest and as such seeks every means to subvert any process that can guarantee credible elections in 2023.

“The subversion of the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the APC further validates the fact that the APC is averse to the aspiration of Nigerians and does not believe in democratic principles of credible elections.

“Our party, therefore, calls on all Nigerians, Civil Society Organizations, the International Community and all lovers of democracy across the world to rise up and put appropriate pressure on the APC-led National Assembly to immediately do the needful so as to safeguard our democracy by ensuring that the basic principles of transparent, credible, free and fair mode of conducting elections are guaranteed and sustained by law.

“The PDP cautions the APC to note that no matter their machination, Nigerians are determined to pursue the electronic transmission of election results to its logical conclusion and that there is no going back in their resolve to vote out the APC in 2023,” it stated.

 

Continue Reading

News

Electoral Act amendment: Presidency explains Buhari’s decision to withhold assent

Published

on

The Presidency has explained President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold assent from the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021.

This is coming as the government continues to receive backlash from the media and the political circles.

In an official statement Tuesday night by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, he said Nigeria’s strength and status as one of the wealthiest economies in Africa must uphold democratic processes enshrined in the Electoral Act of 2010.

Shehu said the amendments have been presented as a means to enhance and build upon our democratic processes.

He noted that after careful review, the President’s Office has found that the opposite is true.

“The proposed amendments entail significant legal, financial, economic and security consequences for all Nigerians, principal among which would be a severe spike in the cost of holding primary elections by parties – integral to democracies the world over.

“And who would shoulder these costs? The Nigerian taxpayer of course. And who would benefit? Only the richest of political parties.

“At a time when the nation is seeking to extricate itself from the economic mire of the worst global health crisis in living memory, whatever other merits the new bill may have, now is not the time for such frivolous spending of public money.

“Inevitably, the usual voices are making themselves heard, with cynical claims of election rigging and so on. This is nothing new.

“We heard their self-serving cries of fraud in 2015, when we saw the first peaceful transfer of power in independent Nigeria’s history.

“Then again in 2019, when President Buhari was re-elected with a lead of over three million. We will hear them again in 2023.”

Shehu said until then, the President will do whatever he can to protect this country’s democracy, including “withholding assent from this Bill.”

He reminded critics that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is one of those that stand to benefit from a bill that favours wealthier parties.

The presidency stressed that it is not the job of the government to cater for the APC, but to protect Nigeria, her people and democracy.

Shehu told those who want public funds to be spent on politicking during a global crisis to “cease cynical games”.

 

Continue Reading

Trending