It is already six years since the #Occupynigeria group shut down the country in protest over the decision of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s decision to end the subsidy regime that saw the country lose billion of Naira to subsidy scams.
Six years down the road, the nation is still faced with the problems that are occasioned by huge payments to the subsidy schemes especially in the oil and gas industry. At the annual Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja Thursday, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said that “we must reform the current fuel subsidy regime. At this stage it causes more problems than it cures.
Bottlenecks of long fuel queues, erratic supply, resultant economic dislocations for consumers from lack of fuel and the corrupt practices of trade insiders undermine the good intentions upon which the subsidy is based.”
He further said that “currently, the subsidy does not benefit the average person. It sweetly profits the elites who manipulate the programme to their own advantage. We need to allow market forces to more directly determine price. We need to open the now closed market to more suppliers. In this way, we may better harmonise supply and demand, where they do the most sustainable economic good.”
In the interim, a number of those who were in support of retention of fuel subsidy have reconsidered their stance in the intervening period. Nigeriabulletin.com sums up the new stance of former actors as follows:
Muhammadu Buhari : Before he became President, he fiercely maintained that fuel subsidy ”does not exist” but few days ago his government just removed a non-existent fuel.
Oby Ezekwesili : Former Education Minister Ezekwesili claims that 2016 is a better year to remove fuel subsidy than 2012 was. For her it’s all about ”trust.”
Bola Tinubu : National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC believes that fuel subsidy removal in 2016 is a ”Necessary pain” Nigerians have to endure.
Ibe Kachikwu : Even up until his Ministerial screening late last year, Nigeria’s Minister of state for petroleum fiercely objected the removal of fuel subsidy. Today, he feels subsidy removal is important to ”sustain supply and reduce the suffering to get the product”.
Nasir El-Rufai : Kaduna state Governor. During the removal of fuel subsidy by the Jonathan administration, he protested saying it was about ”trust not economics”, today El-Rufai feels Nigerians should just stay ”calm and orderly”
Femi Falana : Human Rights activists and lawyer. He was part of the #OccupyNigeria protests. He has openly condemned the Buhari administration for removing fuel subsidy. He’s yet to announce a date for fresh protest.
Tolu Ogunlesi : Award-winning journalist and aide to President Buhari openly opposed the removal of fuel subsidy in 2012. He even went as far as likening former President Jonathan to Boko haram, in an opinion piece Ogunlesi wrote, ”What’s the difference between Boko Haram and GEJ? Boko Haram at least claims responsibility. GEJ gets PPPRA to do so on his behalf”. Today, Ogunlesi supports the removal of fuel subsidy by his boss. Just like Ezekwesili, he says it was more about ”trust” than ”economics”.
Dino Melaye : Senator Melaye opposed fuel subsidy removal in 2012 and is still opposing it today. The flamboyant Senator is threatening to ”lead the mother of all protests” if the policy is not reversed.
Ikhide Ikheloa: Staunch critic of the Abacha regime and popular lawyer. He opposed fuel subsidy in 2012 and led mass protests to the World Bank in Washington DC. He regrets protesting against subsidy removal in 2012. He wrote, ”After making me dance in protest in 2012 before the World Bank and IMF in OPPOSITION, APC Scraps Petrol Subsidy! ”
Yemi Osinbajo : Vice President Yemi Osinbajo fiercely opposed subsidy removal in the past but today he’s touring media houses to educate Nigerians on the ”cost implication of fuel subsidy removal”.
Ayo Sogunro : Popular Nigerian author Sogunro is one of those who regrets protesting against subsidy removal in 2012. in his latest opinion piece ”My Dear President Buhari, Shame On You” the writer said ”As I have suspected for a while, the unsolicited trekking I undertook from Yaba to Ojota to protest the 2012 subsidy removal is now just an intensive workout session. President Buhari and his team of economic wanksters have taken a leaf from Jonathan and his team of economic wanksters. Worse, the new economists in town have outdone Jonathan’s ambitions of N141/l; they have pushed the price up to N145/l—in spite of Fashola’s touted logic on falling crude oil prices. ”
Funmi Iyanda : She was against the fuel subsidy removal in 2012 and while she has come out to express anger with the way the Buhari administration handled its own removal of feul subsidy, she has however excused her 2012 actions with, ”Yes l was against deregulation by a fantastically corrupt government mismanaging resources at a time of high oil prices. ”
Tunde Bakare: Convener of Save Nigeria Group, SNG. Though he’s yet to comment on the removal of subsidy which he strongly opposed in 2012, we know Bakare supports Buhari all the way. He has always said he will support Buhari in subsidy removal because ”the Save Nigeria Group did not mobilise the people of this country to the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, merely to protest the removal of the fuel subsidy but to challenge the corruption that defined the fuel subsidy regime.”
Nothing has changed in the last six years, things may even have gone worst an analysts told TODAYSECHO. At present, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is embroiled in a controversy that has seen it being accused of paying ‘subsidy’ on petrol without appropriation from the National Assembly.
The Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Umar Ajiya, said the NNPC Act is a law on its own which the corporation implements with or without the National Assembly.
The PPMC is a subsidiary of NNPC which ensures, among other things, the availability of petroleum products to sustain Nigeria’s industries.
Mr. Ajiya while featuring on a programme on Channels Television Friday morning said the NNPC has the right to run its finances independently.
He admitted that the corporation has been paying N26 due to differentials in land landing cost and approved selling price but declined to tag it subsidy.
“For us, it’s not a question of subsidy, we don’t know about subsidy. It was not budgeted for but the act establishing us, the National Assembly knows clearly that in that same act, there is a provision that we can run our operation and recover our cost fully.
No legal luminary has been able to address the controversies thrown up by those comments, at the loosing end are the millions of Nigerians who have had to suffer the consequences of a system that has failed to work.