*Fuel Subsidy Removal: “Nigerians Not Happy With Your State of The Nation’s Address Full of Deceitfulness, Insensitivity”, NBA-SPIDEL Tells TINUBU.*


On the 31st of July, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu graciously addressed the nation on the state of the country, with particular emphasis on the telling consequences of his abrupt removal of subsidy on fuel during his inaugural address on the 29th day of May, 2023.

May we honestly appreciate Mr. President for deeming it appropriate and imperative to address Nigerians in the first instance? This is refreshingly different, as most Nigerians can not recall when a president deemed it expedient to address the nation and empathize with Nigerians on the crushing hardship that a policy has engendered. We hope that Mr. President will institutionalize this very noble initiative.

Like most Nigerians, we listened to the address of Mr. President attentively, but sadly, we are deflated and disillusioned because the presidential address simply flattered to deceive unwary Nigerians.

In the said address, Mr. President majored in the minor and extensively preferred cosmetic solutions that inevitably failed to address the core issue, i.e., a well-thought-out sustainable policy and realistic implementation timelines to make fuel available to Nigerians at reasonable cost at the shortest possible time. Nigerians who are suffering and groaning due to the high cost of fuel were expectant of a well-conceptualized roadmap to a regime of fuel availability and affordability, in the presidential address, and not the announcement of an unsustainable palliatives regime. Nigerians were, unfortunately, served with dashed expectations by Mr. President.

Nigerians do not need palliatives except probably in the short term. No matter the palliatives offered, it will be deceitful to assume that it would positively impact the majority of Nigerians. 85% of Nigerians are not under the employment of the government, so how would the increment of salaries of civil servants cascade down or affect the well-being of the majority of Nigerians?

A careful analysis of Mr. President’s address will reveal that the President did not address the reason or rationale for the cause of the high costs of fuel in the country. This failure simply implies that the Federal Government is not interested in the reduction of the high cost of fuel. Therefore, no matter the variables and indices prevalent in the production and refining of oil, the cost of fuel will remain high.

What is therefore reasonably inferable, from the address of Mr. President, is that the Federal Government is comfortable with the high cost of fuel, but willing to provide loans and buses, etc, to a minute part of the people. This is a gross abuse of the sensibilities of Nigerians arising from their naivety and lack of understanding of the dynamics and determinants of fuel pricing templates.

It is high mischief to make Nigerians believe that the removal of subsidy inevitably and without more equates to high prices of petrol. Indeed, fuel could be cheaper, much cheaper even with the removal of subsidy. Variables like the cost of refining, freight costs, legal fees, insurance premium, import duties, etc. are the real determinants of the pump price of fuel. In that wise, the cost of fuel may remain constantly expensive if the government taxes fuel in the guise of subsidy removal, notwithstanding the reduction in the quantum of the variables for whatever reason. It is a fallacy that the removal of subsidies inevitably equates to the high cost of fuel. We have every reason to believe that the Federal Government is deceitfully taxing Nigerians in the guise of subsidy removal.

Specifically, we are taken aback that Mr. President never made mention of the singular most important factor in the determination of fuel prices. We were very shocked that the president did not address the issue of the government-owned refineries. We most humbly state that it is not molecular mathematics to know that the cost of fuel will significantly drop to less than the present cost if the refineries are fixed and set in motion for refining activities.

We state with all sense of responsibility that Nigeria has no business with high fuel prices if we can locally refine our oil meant for local consumption.

It is common knowledge that the Federal Government has 4 refineries with the joint capacity to satisfy our local needs. That the said refineries are lying waste due to mismanagement is a tragedy of monumental proportions, a national disgrace, and prima facie proof of a visionless nation. The refineries have the potential and capacity to consign high cost of fuel to history if made operational; yet, Mr. President said NOTHING about the refineries in his address!

Assuming but not considering that for whatever reason, the Federal Government is not desirous of rehabilitating and activating the refineries for production; is it not imperative that Mr President address us on what he intends to do with them? Is the Federal Government selling them off, abandoning them as unfit for purpose, or rehabilitating them? Nigerians need to know.

The omission from the address of Mr. President of this most important issue we dare to submit is extremely sad, unconscionable, and deceptive. Sadder still is the promise of loans and buses as a substitute for addressing the fundamentals of affordable fuel in an oil-producing country. There has not been such a well-calculated scheme to deceive and hoodwink Nigerians from interrogating an issue more than this. The promise of loans, buses, etc. is a diversion from the real issue, i.e., the issue of sustainable fuel availability at an affordable cost to Nigerians.

We had expected Mr. President to give tax and import duties rebates to importers of fuel, which consequentially will result in the reduction of the pump price of fuel. The reduction of the cost will resoundingly impact the majority of Nigerians. This will be more beneficial than expending funds to import buses that will impact only a tiny fraction of Nigerians. A careful study of our experience will indicate that these buses will be grounded and non-operational in less than 3 years.

We believe that the President could have done better in this wise, and he must do better.

Now, the question that must be asked and which we are asking is: When is Nigeria going to commence local production of fuel? What is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s policy on self-sufficiency of locally produced fuel?
The answers to these questions were what reasonable Nigerians expected from Mr. President on the 31st of July, 2023. The failure to give these particulars and assurances to long-suffering Nigerians was not an oversight. We believe that it was a deliberate and calculated ploy to deceive Nigerians and lull them to a false sense of lack of alternatives to the present excruciating lives that they have been condemned to by their very insensitive and corrupt leaders over the years. However, NBA-SPIDEL is not deceived.

Mr. President, sir; what are you going to do with our refineries? What exactly is your plan for attaining self-sufficiency in locally refined fuel?

Dated this 3rd day of August 2023.

John Aikpokpo-Martins
Chairman, NBA- SPIDEL

Funmi Adeogun
Secretary, NBA- SPIDEL

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