By Ameh John
Against the widespread rumour that the federal government is planning to remove fuel subsidy, the Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Sunday in Washington DC USA, said that government has no immediate plan to remove fuel subsidy.
The Finance Minister who spoke in the company of Minister of National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udoma and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emediele, when they addressed journalists at the on-going IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC. According to her, “There is no imminent plan to remove fuel subsidy”.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had on Friday called on the Federal Government to put an end to the subsidy on petroleum products by reviving the local refineries to ensure the products were extracted and refined in the country for domestic use.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, at the public declaration of Nigeria’s host of the 6th African meeting of Solidarity with Cuba scheduled to hold in September this year, and the inauguration of a local organising committee, warned the federal government to be weary of any advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), insisted that subsidy was another form of corruption which in the understanding of the NLC, was nothing but the funding of inefficiency.
“In the first instance, is there subsidy? This is a question we have not been able to answer and I want to collaborate with what President Buhari said years back that subsidy is actually corruption and that whoever is subsidizing is aiding corruption and we stand by that position. In fact that has remain a consistent position of NLC.
“We can kill the issue of subsidy if we refine our products for our domestic use and it is not rocket science. Very soon we are going to forward a well documented document to government on that.
“You recall that two or three years back, we invited one of the best Nigerian from Texas that has consulted to many countries around the world on the issue of oil and gas, and he gave us the analysis that our refineries can be upgraded. Nothing is wrong with our refineries, it is just conspiracy.
“Refineries can be upgraded from 1 capacity to another. The four refineries we have, if serviced and upgraded can service our population and the entire West Africa countries. But because it pays more for corruption tendencies, that is why we prefer importation than refining our product for domestic use. So clearly this issue should be situated.
“Whereas we celebrate countries like Venezuela today that have stood their ground today to say no; the policies must work for the people and not for the capitalist, our own case is a sorry one. God Almighty has already given us this resource in abundance, why should our citizens have to suffer to get it for use?
“In the first place, we should only be talking about subsidy if actually we do not produce this product. But whereas we are producing it and in abundance in that matter, yet we suffer like we don’t even own a drop of it. This is the shameful ordeal Nigerians go through. It is really a funny situation.
“You own crude oil, you pay for it to be extracted from the ground, you pay for it to be taken outside to be refined, you pay for tax to where you took it to and you also pay to bring it back to your country for consumption. In fact we are only but lying for inefficiency in the country and it is very shameful. Because if we are producing our product here as it ought to, that word called subsidy in anything concerning petrol product would just die,” he said.