Subsidy Removal: Gospel 2012 vs Gospel 2016

Subsidy Removal: Gospel 2012 vs Gospel 2016
May 13 14:01 2016

By Chibueze Iheukwumere Ihejirika

In 2012, the Peoples Democratic Party, a behemoth that had dominated the Nigerian political space for 12 years without any meaningful socio-economic or infrastructural development  was still in power and Nigerians had lost so much trust and hope in it.

By 2012, the PDP led Federal Govermment had spent over $20 billion on power though persistent darkness was all they achieved.
By 2012, the party had been budgeting several billions of naira  annually for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries without results.

In 2012, Nigerians were shocked that a PhD parading President could not explain in simple English how and to whom he paid out about #2 trillion in excess of the #300 billion which was annual budget for subsidy payment.

In 2012, Nigerians had no reason to trust that the PDP gang of allegedly corrupt elements would not still mismanage the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector the way they had mismanaged other vital national assets as a result of  greed and incompetence. Nigerians did not trust Dr Goodluck Jonathan and his equally corrupt co-travellers that the proceeds from fuel price increase would still not be stolen.

In 2012, Nigerians demanded the end of corruption in the oil sector, fixing of our existing refineries and account of the trillions President Jonathan claimed to have  paid out as subsidy payments just before the 2011 elections before they could accept any attempt to remove fuel subsidy in the country. Jonathan didnt do this, he rather made a cheap attempt to force a cruel pump price regime down the throat of poor Nigerians, hence the massive resistance he received.

The 2016 Gospel

By May 2016 just within one year in office, Nigerians have seen a substantial elimination of most of the strings of corruption bedevilling the oil and gas sector by the Buhari led All Progressives Congress government. The political will already shown by a determined leader to rid the nation of all forms of graft is obvious even for the blind to see.

Within eight months in office, Nigerians had seen the genuine and patriotic efforts being made by the President Buhari administration to fix the long abandoned refineries and huge network of petroleum pipelines across the nation.

Between May 2015 and May 2016, Nigerians have had their ears filled with revelations of  mind boggling acts of alleged treasury looting and stealing of national assets as allegedly facilitated by past PDP governments especially that of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan PhD.

Nigerians are now seeing those who erroneously believed that they had become untouchable being called to question and huge sums of stolen assets  being returned by allegedly corrupt past government officials.

In 2016, Nigerians have every reason to believe that corruption is being fought headlong and have come to develop high level of trust in the government of the day.

Today, Nigerians are willing to tighten their belts for a regime that has shown high level of transparency and integrity in the conduct of government business.

The above factors clearly explain the reasons why the subsidy removal that was rejected in 2012 is being embraced by the same people in 2016. Subsidy removal is the same both in 2012 and 2016 but the gospels are clearly different.

Simply put, the gospel in 2012 was “fellow Nigerians, pay more for fuel so that me and my people will have more of your petrol dollars to play around with.”

The 2016 gospel is however something like, “Dear compatriots, pay more for fuel so that we use the money we spend on subsidy to fix your infrastructure and plan a better future for you and your
Children.

Where we got it wrong

1. Saudi Arabia with a population of 26 million has 16 functional refineries. Her leaders plan to commission another two of 400,000 barrel each per day capacity in 2016.
2. The U.S State of California alone has 26 refineries.  Another state, Texas has 19 refineries.
3. Singapore with a population of 5.6million people has three refineries with a combined refining capacity of 1.3 million barrel per day.
4. Nigeria has four (non functional refineries) built in the 70s and 80s.  These refineries are now obsolete. 16 years of oil boom under PDP we didn’t add even ONE.
5. We didnt invest in our downstream sector, but our past leaders handed out importation licenses to cronies & acolytes. Today we are paying the price.