Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Who needs fuel, who needs subsidy?

EVERYBODY needs fuel. Nobody needs
fuel subsidy as governments have shown
over the years. Fuel subsidy is a convoluted
conspiracy that is at best a racket raised
to a national pantheon because each
government has discovered the bogey
called subsidy serves its interests and
myriad interests that cannot pass any
Nigerians, under the guise of subsidy are
paying for what they do not know. The
alleged subsidy is used to ensure fuel is sold
at the same price throughout the country,
a myth government has no interests in
making a reality.
Every Nigerian, who uses fuel — and
there is nobody who does not — pays fully
for it, in addition to subsidising
government for poor services that
government agencies provide.
Subsidy is in the imagination of
government, which knows the argument
centres on making more cash available for
government. Propositions about
infrastructure government would build if
subsidy goes, are stale and founded on lies.
Nineteen years ago when arguments on
fuel subsidy were at their most strident
notes, government promised that if fuel
sold at N5 per litre, it would invest in
electricity, education, housing, rails,
roads, water. Nigerians were told fuel
subsidy was a wasteful evil that enhanced
corruption and held Nigeria from taking
the leap to prosperity.
The price of fuel is N65 officially, subject
to availability, and depending on the part
of the country. The same unimaginative
argument that the removal of subsidy
would make fuel available at the same
price throughout the country has proved
futile. The simple reason being that fuel
cannot be available everywhere in Nigeria
at the same price. Costs incurred in
moving the products and the adequacy of
infrastructure to hold products at
economically profitable quantities account
for this.
Subsidy is a big lie told for too long with
the hope that it would be believed.
Improvements on infrastructure are
unrelated to price of fuel. Governments
live big on free money from crude oil. On
the sides, fuel importation provides
another stream of free money for
government officials, who push subsidy
solely for their own benefits and for
sustenance of governments that have
grown too large to run on official revenue.
Fuel importation and the largesse from
subsidy are responsible for government’s
disinterest in making the refineries work.
If the refineries work, will they not reduce
the volume of imported fuel? Will they
not create jobs? Will Nigeria’s petro-
chemical industries not blossom from the
by-products of crude oil?
If ever there is a subsidy, government
should remove it. However, government
knows that its arguments are weak, they
have always been. There are no
infrastructures that can stand up to that
name, electricity hardly works, majority
of Nigerians produce their own water,
however, they do it. Will government say
it is unaware of these?
With billions of Naira Nigerians spend
annually in providing infrastructure —
mostly fuelled with petrol — how can
government speak of fuel subsidy? Has
government not learnt that no matter at
what price it sells fuel, there is
racketeering of the product because the
hinterlands and coasts cannot have
unfettered access to the product?
Subsidy debates, detached from proposal
on the totality of the economy, are
diversionary, defeatist, and too
determined to fulfil the ambitions of a
country making pretences to an interest
in a stable future for its people.
It is disingenuous for government to throw
these debates at people to create time for it
to indulge in governance without the

No comments:

Post a Comment