The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, said yesterday that the federal government removed subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol because the subsidy regime was characterised by fraudulent activities of some cabals which were not beneficial to the masses.
The GMD reiterated that while over N10trillion was spent on fuel subsidy between 2006 and 2020 without significant impact on the masses, marketers who were smuggling the subsidised PMS to neighbouring countries were making more profit and others who also faked documents to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported.
The NNPC GMD who stated during a Hausa Radio programme monitored by our Correspondent in Kaduna at the weekend said the fuel subsidy was the root of all the attrocities and frauds in the oil sector.
He averred that the federal government government removed the subsidy with a plan to reinvest on projects that will have direct impact on the general masses.
Kyari stated: “The crude oil is a global commodity and its price is not hidden, everyone can calculate and know how much is the cost of every final product from the crude at international market. But, since the inception of the country, the Government has been paying subsidy on petrol to make it cheaper for Nigerians to buy below the cost price.
“This subsidy is designed to assist the masses of Nigeria, that is the intention, but in reality, the masses are not the beneficiaries. First, the masses are not the owners of the exotic cars, buying fuel, owning the filling stations and doing the oil business.
“This subsidy that the government has been paying over the years is the root of all the atrocities and fraud committed in this country. For example, if you look at it from 2006 till 2020, we have spent over
N10trillion on fuel subsidy. Apart from that, there is also subsidy on foreign currencies, everybody knows how much is dollar in the market, but government is also subsidising it. So, this and the fuel subsidy within this period is around 14 to 15 trillion Naira.
“What was happening with the subsidy is that, some marketers were smuggling fuel to other neighbouring African countries because it was cheaper in Nigeria due to the subsidy. Another one is those who use to
fake documents and bring to Government to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported and the previous Government was paying them.
“So, it was not the masses of Nigeria that were enjoying this subsidy, except some cabals, who are rich and powerful, they were enriching themselves with the subsidy money at the detriment of the masses who
were the primary target of the subsidy. The masses are only enjoying the subsidy when it comes to the effects on cost of transportation, and we are going to do something about this.
“This money that has been wasted over the years, it cannot be justified. So, with the right leaders in place, this money should have been channelled to other areas of development. Even though I understand
that there is lack of trust between the leaders and the citizens, but if we have just leaders, this money can be judiciously utilised.
“But, what we have seen in the last five years, has shown that, if we have just and trusted leaders, that money can be judiciously utilised to the benefit of the masses. We have seen that, the resources at the disposal of the Government in the last five years, is not up to a quarter of what the previous Government got in the previous five years.
“So, what the Government is trying to do is that, to withdraw this subsidy and take it to where the Nigeria masses will feel the impact, by building hospitals, schools, roads, industries and so on, where people can see physically what the money are being used for.
“This subsidy has been removed since March this year, that time, price of crude oil was less than $30 per barrel, as a result of that, the price of fuel dropped, so, we dropped the price of fuel to the level of global market price, it was dropped to N125.
“From this money, Nigeria has been able to pay workers’ salaries without retrenching despite the effects of the Covid-19 on the global economy. In the whole of West Africa, it is only Nigeria that didn’t retrench workers as result of Covid-19 pandemic. Apart from that, part of the money will be used to support farmers and other business”.
On the Ajaokuta, Kaduna, Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project, the GMD said Nigeria has more gas deposit than oil, hence the need to extend the gas across the country.
He said because gas is cheaper than fuel, government decided to extend gas supply to the North to ensure revival of the moribund factories like the textile industry which collapsed due to lack of power, adding that the industries could not have survived running on diesel.
“If we don’t extend gas to the North, this challenge of collapse of industry will continue to worsen. So, when completed, it will bring back the factories, because we are going to build power plants in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano. This will create employment and address poverty in the region”, Kyari noted.