A former Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 general elections, Sam Ohuabunwa, has lashed out at President Muhammadu Buhari over his inability to enforce price control in the oil and gas sector.
This was as the former President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria claimed that the Federal Government was paying lip service to the issues around the oil sector, saying, “It is deceitful and dis-ingenious for this government to announce that payment of subsidy will end in June when they would have ended their regime.”
“Why wait? Why make such a deceitful proposition? Who will enforce the plan, Buhari/oil minister or the new President?” he queried.
He stated this in a statement he personally signed, a copy of which was made available on Sunday.
The statement read, “Directly or indirectly, officially or unofficially, it is clear that the cap on the pump price of petrol has been removed. All over Nigeria, for a few months now, the price of petrol has varied from one filling station to the other.
“As of January 6, prices ranged from a minimum of N240 per litre in Benin, N340 in Kaduna, N360 in Umuahia, N400 per litre in Owerri to N500 per litre in Port Harcourt. No filling station is selling at the so-called controlled price, except in some filling stations in Abuja and Lagos. And nobody is enforcing any price as used to happen in the past. So it is clear we have deregulated. That’s fine!
“I think the Government should own up and announce this policy officially.
“It is deceitful and dis- ingenious for this Government to announce that payment of Subsidy will end in June when they would have ended their regime. Why wait? Why make such a deceitful proposition? Who will enforce the plan, Buhari/oil minister or the new President?
“I urge the government to come clean and level up with the citizens instead of this deceit and hanky-panky game with our commonwealth and citizen wellbeing.
By announcing the deregulation now, which is already a fiat accomplice, Nigerians will attain the following benefits:
“First, official deregulation will mean, that many more companies and oil marketers can import fuel under the supervision of the Regulatory agency, thus immediately easing the scarcity and ending the double jeopardy of many motorists and road users.
“For months now many motorists spend hours and in some cases, days and nights trying to buy the product at inflated prices. They lose many productive hours searching for petrol and when they find it, they pay exorbitant prices. Those who buy from hawkers run the risk of buying adulterated fuel which destroys car engines, in addition to the indignity of buying petrol from hawkers.
“This is not to talk of the misery of those who travelled in commercial vehicles this season. Many were stranded at motor parks as they found that their budget could not meet the daily changing fares!
Secondly and most importantly, official deregulation now will obviate the need for more subsidy payment and at least we can save the N3.5 trillion budgeted for the first six months of this year by this outgoing government.”
The statement added, “N3.5Trillion can do so much for our infrastructure, especially when it is noted that only N5.9Trillion is the entire Capital budget in a N22 trillion Budget for 2023. It can build several roads and bridges across the country or transform our entire educational and healthcare system.
“Thirdly it will disabuse the minds of some Nigerians who speculate that this N3.5 trillion has been put in the budget for other purposes including election funding and send-forth and parting gifts for the government officials and politicians of the party in power. This set of Nigerians can see that government has ‘surreptitiously’ deregulated while still retaining subsidy payments. And they ask for what purpose? Hence the speculation.
“To deny this speculation and save a whooping N3.5 trillion, I urge this government to formally announce the deregulation now or if they are ‘afraid’ to do for whatever reason, then they should open up the market ‘surreptitiously’ as well so that supply can expand and allow market forces to fix price.
“To allow only NNPCL to be importing while removing the price cap after paying subsidy is profoundly confounding. The current situation is deeply damaging the Nigerian economy, increasing poverty and misery for many Nigerians while creating a lot of opportunities for arbitrage and corruption for NNPC and government officials.
“President Buhari should bite this bullet and save Nigerians from multiple jeopardies, which they are facing right now. It is true that we have lost the battle against corruption, but we must not watch helplessly as poor Nigerians are openly ‘raped’ and ravaged by the ‘oil curse’.”