Politics of fuel subsidy

Olufunke Cole

By Funke Cole

It’s the economy, stupid! This wisecrack becomes apposite in describing the predicaments Nigerians have faced in the economic front in the last couple of years as many families continue to pine under the yoke of poverty and hopelessness.

To make matters worst, successive governments have been skirting around the issues and literally wishing the problems away by burying their heads on the sands like the proverbial ostrich.

Talk of postponing the evil day.

But there comes a time a painful decision must be made to prevent situations from turning from bad to worse.

That’s exactly what the immediate past government of president Muhammadu Buhari did by putting an end to the fuel subsidy, which to all intent and purpose was simply a poisonous chalice being forced under the throats of Nigerians in order to placate the few rogues in our midst.

The subsidy payment was one huge monster that the government battled with no victory and it has continued to pull down the economy to its knells.

To recap, the fuel subsidy connudrum was a function of several factors, where a syndicate operated unrestrained to the detriment of the rest of us.

Let’s look at this scenario to have a better grasp of the situation. Take for instance, the government buys imported refined petroleum products with a landing cost of about N500 and resells to oil marketers at a heavily subsidised rate of N250, who add their own margin and later sell to the end users at say N350.

It doesn’t stop there. The same marketers sell these products to neighbouring countries like Togo, Cameroon, at a whopping cost of N500. Yet, many believe this should go unabated? This can’t be because it makes no economic sense really.

At the last count, the government expends a whopping N400billion to service monthly with the NNPCL being owed over N2.8trillion.

How do you explain a situation where the federal government would have to keep boosting the economy of a few cabals?

As to be expected, the lot of implementing this fuel subsidy removal has fallen on the laps of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Is the situation going to be an easy ride? Certainly not.

Thankfully, the government has promised that it will access the World Bank loan of $800m to provide relief for the downtrodden and this is where the need for a human face comes in.

All said, in the short term we are likely to have challenges but on the long term things will definitely even out.