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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Government Of Crooks And The Corrupt N145/Litre Petrol Pump Price

By Ikenna Asomba

On a very serious note, I have lacked words to describe the Rudderlessness at which Sleazes rock the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, since coming on board on May 29, 2015.

The glaring cluelessness, impunity and sleazes swept under the carpet before the very eyes of President Buhari leaves me shocked why many an Activists, as well as Civil Society Organisations, which hitherto abhor corruption in Aso Rock, under past administrations, no longer pour into the Freedom Square, Ojota, Lagos, to express their displeasures.

It has indeed, been three wasteful years of inactivities and passivity, especially by the once voiceferous Lagos CSOs.

Well, as an ardent history student, I was one of the very few Nigerians, who saw the current Buhari-led administration, a Disaster foretold.

Here was a man who led Nigeria into its worst Recession in his first stint- 1983-1985. There was no way I would have canvassed for such a man in 2015, because he was sponsored by Strange Bed Fellows who called themselves Progressives. Of course, events of the last three years have exposed these men as Clannish Power Mongers and Retrogressives.

True to my assertion, the man led Nigeria to another worse Recession in 2016 with over 10 million Nigerians losing their jobs. Inflation remains at double digits of 16% till date. Prices of essential goods and services still remain high in the markets, even as essential public infrastructures continue to rot in reckless abandon. What a pathetic prediction come true!

The issue in contention is the Pump Price of Petrol (Premium Motor Spirit, or what the Americans call Gasoline).

Following the pulling out of the United States led by President Donald Trump from the 2015 Iran Deal, the global price of oil has soared steeply to $80/barrel.

This singular action, has though minimally jerked the price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. The citizens are groaning.

As the global price of oil has soared steeply to $80/barrel, Nigerians expect the pump price of petrol to go down from its current N145/litre.

But, I say, without mincing words that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle than for the Buhari administration to reduce the pump price of petrol for the benefits of all Nigerians. Buhari should prove me wrong!

The basic maths is that when the global price of oil soars, the local pump price also soars, and vice versa.

For a country like Nigeria, whose crude oil is still refined abroad and imported back home as petroleum products, because her local refineries don't operate at optimum capacity, fact remains that the Subsidy government pays for per litre of petrol to ease the cost on Nigerians must soar steeply.

Therefore, Nigerians should await a rude shock of an impending increase in pump price of petrol should the current $80/barrel or slightly lesser subsist for a while.

This rude shock, I can authoritavely say won't come now as the political season is already here, and Buhari is gunning for another disastrous second term.

Need I remind the Buhari administration that when former President Goodluck Jonathan reduced the pump price of petrol from N97/litre to N87/litre in January 2015, following the crash of global price of oil from $60.70/barrel in December 2014 to $47.11/barrel in January 2015, his party the All Progressives Congress, APC, called it mere tokenism. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, then National Publicity Secretary of the APC, issued that bombastic press statement condemning Jonathan on Monday, January 19, 2015. Refer back to National Dailies.

As at May 2015, when the Buhari administration came on board, global price of oil stood at $62.51/barrel, and Buhari increased local pump price of petrol from N87/litre to N145/litre all in the name of "Change Starts With Nigerians;" "Nigerians Should Bear The Brunt Of Change For A While," among other confusing reasons for the hike.

Be that as it may, the question for the Buhari administration remains: Even at $45.94/barrel in May 2016, Nigerians were forced by this Rudderless administration to buy petrol at N145/litre, even as subsidies were nicodemously steeply paid.

They told us a stupendous N1.4trillion had been paid on Subsidy since 2015. WOW! But who paid what to who? Wasn't it same Buhari that asked this same question before 2015, beating his hands on his chest that Subsidy was a Fraud?

One had thought that the lower the global price of oil, the lower the pump price and vice versa. But it was never the case for the Buhari administration.

Under Buhari, even when Nigerians were told that when they buy petrol at N145/litre, it was going to be the death knell on fuel scarcity, that was not the case. Nigerians have passed through untold hardship, twice or thrice, since 2015, buying petrol even at N500/litre. So, who is deceiving who?

Need I ask, how much the Buhari government has made thus far off Nigerians, since increasing petrol pump price to N145/litre?

Need I ask, how much subsidy has been paid since May 29, 2015?

How much has the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, raked in revenue and remitted thus far into the Federation account since May 2015.

I am asking, Nigerians are asking, even the comrade Governors Forum, are also worriedly asking.

One had thought, that with Buhari as President and doubling as Petroleum Minister, Transparency would be the watchword in Nigeria's oil sector? But NEVER the case.

Fact remains, this government has fleeced Nigerians in so many ways?

Need I talk of the introduction of frivolous Bank Deductions? These are Highfalutin Frauds against the Nigerian people. Is it the Stamp Duty, Reintroduction of ATM Charges after three withdrawals from your bank's ATM or once from another Bank's ATM?

All these issues make me conclude that indeed, the Buhari administration has come to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY.

At this juncture, I urge the Buhari administration to come out and boldly tell Nigerians the truth about its Subsidy Payments thus far since 2015.

I know it that as the global oil price stands at $80/barrel currently, the petrol pump price of N145/litre is not sustainable. Which ever way, whether an increased pump price (not feasible in this political season), or increased subsidy payments, Nigerians are still the losers.

This is what you get when government business is continuously shrouded in Highfalutin Secrecy.

Ikenna Asomba is a Journalist and Social Commentator.

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