Ifeanyi Izeze

Just as Nigerians were still contemplating the N3.76 billion allegedly doled out on daily basis as subsidy payments for domestically consumed petrol, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Monday May 7, declared that contrary to the widely held view,  it was the Federal Government that has been paying the huge subsidy and not the corporation.

This was disclosed at the House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee investigating the status of the nation’s four refineries by the Chief Operating Officer in charge of Refineries, Mr. Anibor Kragha, who represented the NNPC group managing director.

How did Nigerians get to this point that subconsciously we portray ourselves as dubious by default? It beats my imagination how we actually treat ourselves in this country and it shows that despite what we want the public to believe, most times, Nigerians now hear more of what “body languages” say than actual words.

The question we should ask is: where is the NNPC and where is the federal government? As presently designed and packaged, can anyone separate the NNPC from the Presidency/federal government?

Is NNPC’s critical decisions not taken in the Presidency as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohhammadu Buhari is also the substantive minister of Petroleum Resources just as his Chief of Staff, Abbah Kyari sits as the commanding voice in the NNPC Board? So it is an outright mischief for the NNPC to attempt to extricate itself from the tomfoolery called petrol subsidy.

Was it the Federal Government or the NNPC that told us that the country’s consumption rate of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol was 28 million litres per day in December 2017 just as the subsidy cost was N726 million per day and N261.4 billion per annum.

Precisely by March 5 2018, the NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru openly claimed that the figure of the nation’s daily petrol consumption had metamorphosed to 50 million litres per day and that NNPC had spent $5.8 billion (N1.7 trillion) on fuel importation in January and February this year meaning N774 million is paid daily as subsidy on petrol.

And in less than one month again, the same people came out openly at a public forum in Abuja to announce that the nation’s consumption rate of petrol has skyrocketed to 60 million litres per day and that the cost of subsidy or rather “under-recovery” is now over N1.4 trillion. This figure means about N3.76 billion is spent daily on subsidising petrol. That is a staggering 386 per cent higher than the earlier figure of N774 million daily given on March 5, 2018 by the NNPC Group Managing Director for the importation and distribution of petroleum products in the country.

The only reason given by the corporation for the skyrocketing of the nation’s daily domestic consumption figure was that petrol meant for local use is being smuggled into several West African countries. Even if we concede to the story of smuggling as alleged by the NNPC group managing director, available statistics have it that the total volume of petrol consumed by Benin, Togo, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Ghana is less than 250,000 litres per day. So does this explain the difference of 32 million litres per day between the consumption rate of imported fuel in December 2017 and March 2018?

Who receives and vets the Bill of Laden and DPR certified Cargo Discharged Certificates of the imported allegedly subsidised Petroleum Products into the country? Is it not this same NNPC?

Who entered into the Offshore Processing Agreements pertaining to the lifting of the approved 445,000 barrels of crude oil set aside everyday for domestic refining and consumption? Still the same NNPC!

Whether it’s the NNPC or the Presidency that takes this huge amount on daily basis as subsidy on petrol is immaterial. The crucial question we should ask is: why dole out billions of Naira daily on a product not consumed by Nigerians as the corporation has already established that over half of the volume we are paying subsidy on is outrightly stolen and taken to other countries? There is something not very transparent in the entire arrangement.

It will be a gross disservice to this nation for any Nigerian to pretend not to know that the Nigerian Petroleum Minister is President Mohhammadu Buhari so The Office of The Minister of Petroleum Resources which also doubles as the Office of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria should explain to us where it gets the billions to pay out every day as subsidy on petrol because the N3.76 billion doled out every day as subsidy on petrol, was not captured in the federal government’s 2017 Budget or even in the NNPC’s operating fiscal framework. So where does the money come from?

If we must confront our leaders on issues of accountability, let’s fight real rather than shadow boxing otherwise there is no need of wasting our time “creating activity” as my people would say.

We should not be afraid to ask President Buhari, the minister of Petroleum Resources to tell Nigerians how the NNPC, a parastatal under his ministry, came up with the 60 million litres per day national daily consumption for petrol and payment of N3.76 billion as subsidy for one day? God bless Nigeria!

 

(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja; iizeze@yahoo.com; 234-8-33043009)

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