Petrol subsidy can’t continue — NEC

Petroleum subsidy will be over in June, the National Economic Council (NEC) hinted yesterday.

Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule told reporters in Abuja after a NEC meeting that the provision for subsidy in the 2022 budget terminates in June.

According to him, the decision on what to do next is the prerogative of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited.

He spoke along with Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.

However, former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar warned against removal of petrol subsidy, saying that it would push more Nigerians into poverty.

Gen. Abdulsalami spoke at another forum in Abuja.

Also, Organised Labour maintained that its proposed protest against subsidy removal would go on as scheduled on January 27.

Sule clarified that governors who are members of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led NEC have no role in determining the prices of petroleum products.

He said: “If the Minister of Finance (Zainab Ahmed) provides subsidy for six months, you probably can understand part of the reasons for the provision.

“When the NNPC Limited fully takes off, it is at that moment that decisions on subsidy removal will be made.

“I want to make the correction that it is not governors who are making recommendations. It is actually a NEC committee that comprises all the others.

“Already, the Petroleum Industry Act has fully taken charge, and it will not require any recommendation from anybody.”

Obaseki said the Federal Government was spending about N2 trillion on petroleum subsidy annually.

The governor said the amount could have been used for other purposes, adding that Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which sells for N162-165 per litre in Nigeria, is 100 per cent higher in other countries.

According to him, the NEC wondered whether that should be allowed to continue in a situation where, he pointed out, only two-thirds of the states of the federation consume the subsidy.

Sule said: “As you are aware, the issue of subsidy has been one matter that NEC has deliberated on for more than a year now.

“There was an ad-hoc committee, which was set up by NEC headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State that included members of the Executive arm of government.

“The committee worked on recommendations as to what we should do about the cost of PMS locally because as you realise, as has been told us, the cost of PMS in Nigeria today is about N162 per litre, whereas every other country surrounding Nigeria is selling the same product at more than 100 per cent of the cost in Nigeria.

“And the country as at last year spent in excess of N2 trillion subsidising petroleum products. That is money that could have gone into building roads, money that could have gone into healthcare and education.

“So, for NEC, the arguments have been put out, should we continue this regime of spending money we do not have to subsidize the living standards of only mostly those who have vehicles?

“And when NEC looked at some of the analysis last year, we then realised that less than 1/3 of the states of this country consume two-thirds of the subsidy.

So, the issue of equity also came up. All of these findings were presented to NEC and NEC has had several deliberations. And the deliberations are still ongoing.

“NEC hasn’t come up with any decision yet. I think recommendations have also been made to the President.”

Obaseki also said NNPC has been unable to remit N200 billion into the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) because of the payment of subsidy.

Former Head of State Abubakar warned against an increase in the cost of petroleum products, saying that 80 million Nigerians are still caught up in needless poverty

Abubakar spoke at the 19th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “2023:The Politics, Economy and Insecurity” in Abuja on Thursday.

He said: “On top of all these, fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming months as announced last November by the NNPC.

“When this happens, as the government has planned, it will push many millions deeper into poverty.”

Abubakar stated that young people and women are the demographic groups most affected by the country’s dire economic outlook.

He warned that if the outlook was not carefully managed, the frustrations of these groups could easily boil over into a national conflagration worse than the #ENDSARS protests.

Governors: we have no role in determining pump price
Governors, who said they were not involved in determining pump price of fuel, however, said they would engage with Labour on the issue.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, who briefed journalists at after the body’s meeting early yesterday, said: “For us at the forum, it (petroleum subsidy removal) is a matter that is a going concern.

“We don’t have a definitive issue on it, because it’s left to the Petroleum Industry Act. It is not for us.

“NNPC is now a private company and the company should decide what it wants to do with the price of its product. It shouldn’t really be the business of the governors.

“The forum discussed the issue around petroleum subsidy and concluded to engage the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on how best to address this issue without causing any disaffection, but with a view to salvaging the Nigerian economy for the Nigerian people at the end of the day,” Fayemi said.

The NGF Chairman said the governors did not contribute to the proposal that a litre of petrol should sell at N302 as contained in a report by the National Economic Council (NEC).

University workers to join protest
Organised Labour has said it would resist further attempts by the Federal Government to inflict more pain on Nigerians as it plans a nationwide protest on January 27.

It got the backing of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), which said that its branches have adequately mobilised in line with the NLC directive.

Speaking at its 41st Regular National Executive Council meeting at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, the SSANU President, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, noted with regret that the government does not consider citizens’ pains in making decisions.

Ibrahim said as an affiliate of the NLC, SSANU would participate actively in the proposed protest.

He said: “We have it in good authority that about N200 will be added to the N162 or N170 depending on where you are buying as fuel price in Nigeria.

“This the NLC totally rejects and SSANU will participate fully in this protest across Nigeria on the 27th of this month.

“The present Federal Government of Nigeria is not doing any better in its relationship with our labour unions.”

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