Beware of half-truth; you may have got the wrong half…Sam Levenson
The first time my attention was drawn to the issue of fuel subsidy removal was during the government of Ibrahim Babangida when the then Vice-president went through a lot of trouble to explain to us the benefits of removing 90% of the fuel subsidy. It was packaged as though it was a removal of a malignant tumour that will free the patient of his pains and pave way to a healthier living. Like a real tumour the issue has refused to go away even after several huge chunks of it has been removed.
Apart from the Abacha era when Nigerians saw some benefits of fuel subsidy removal, all other governments at best directed us to a wonderland existing only in their imagination. In the real Nigeria nothing has changed following all other fuel subsidy removals. The arguments for subsidy removal are worn and torn. It seems there is a script in the presidency that says it all and what a subsequent user has to do is change the names and dates. This is part of the problem of governance in Nigeria, argument with words rather than action. Government can loan us some money and start delivering the benefits of the subsidy removal before implementing it. Let us see the roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, electricity, food, employment and payment of a true minimum living wage.
Unfortunately government and NNPC officials are not bold enough to tell us that fuel subsidy is a ghost of corruption in the oil and petroleum sector. Rather they prefer the people to pay for their inefficiency and poor planning. Selling crude oil only to import petroleum products is like a farmer selling yams to go and buy pounded yam. Certainly he has to subsidise the cost of pounded yam for himself and his family if he wishes for them all to eat. But where the farmer can reclaim the subsidy from a master, then he would happily buy the pounded yam at any cost and deliver it at any costs too. This is what the NNPC is doing. Sell the crude oil, import petroleum products and claim the subsidy from the government or Nigerians.
It is time for government to subsidise or rather substantiate the truth or lie about fuel subsidy and its removal. We should be informed why crude oil cannot be refined in Nigeria or why the refineries cannot be privatised, why petrol has to be imported at a cost higher than the official cost price at our filling stations? What is the total storage capacity at the jetties and depots? Should we incur demurrage on imported products? Who are those benefitting from the subsidy payments? It is time to tell all, reveal all and stop subsidising the truth about fuel subsidy removal.
Nigerians should be soared the troubles and disruptions arising from this imaginary giant that cannot be tamed or put to rest permanently. The refineries should be sold forthwith or turned around permanently (TAP). No one expects the children of a bottle water producer to drink pure water in their homes. We have suffered and have been tortured enough by this fuel subsidy monster.