A popular columnist and communication scholar, Prof Farooq Kperogi has faulted the sudden removal of subsidy on petroleum which has resulted in unprecedented hike in the price of PMS across the country, lamenting that, as a direct consequence of the policy, many Nigerians are now dying in installments.
Prof Kperogi who is based in Atlanta, USA, spoke as Guest on Boiling Point Arena, a popular online discourse monitored via Google Meet and transmitted live on an Abeokuta-based radio station, Oodua 99.9FM.
Kperogi spoke on the topic, TINUBUNOMICS And The Removal of Fuel Subsidy: Which Way Nigeria? during the 8th edition of Boiling Point Arena, a forum for good governance and nation building, convened by a notable media professional and activist, Mr Ayo Arowojolu.
Two other Guests/Discussants who are top industry players in the oil and gas sector, Mr Chikezie Nwosu and Imam Nojeem Jimoh, also shared very insightful perspectives on how the President Bola Tinubu Administration can navigate the country out of the economic mess which the subsidy regime over the years has plunged the nation.
Kperogi further said at the over two hour live interview session that what the Tinubu Administration and other preceding regimes have done is tantamount to “weaponizing wickedness against Nigerians”.
Hear him: “The government has pauperised the entire populace and have weaponized wickedness against Nigerians due to arbitrary decision to remove subsidy on petroleum overnight and the consequence is that our people are going back to living in stone age.”
The American-Nigerian scholar stressed: ” the discussion on subsidy has merely been a rhetorical question over the years. The government has effectively propagandized subsidy.
Because of the profundity of poverty in the land, Nigerians are no longer thinking. The cost of everything has more than tripled. Life has return to the stone age.
“The effect is more seen on everyday living of Nigerians. It has affected small scale businesses and people are dying since they can no longer afford the prohibitive price of petrol. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world presently and it will be worse in this era. Even in US, I pay less for fuel than people in Nigeria at $3 a litre.”
Kperogi’s argument is that it was a mis-step for President Tinubu to have announced sudden removal of subsidy, concluding that, “when you have a government that does not take care of its weakest in the society, that government does not deserve to exist.The subsidy being enjoyed by the rich are at the expense of the masses.”
For his part, Mr Chikezie Nwosu, Founder, HSI Energy Resources based in Netherlands, criticized the idea of subsidy removal which is anchored in a forlorn hope that the market forces of supply and demand will ultimately bring down petroleum prices.
Nwosu said what was needed is a wholistic and comprehensive energy policy that will see to the establishment of many modular refineries as well as the inflow of massive foreign direct investment in the sector.
He stated: “Subsidy removal should have been phased because not normal market forces drive the changes we are all expecting to see in the sector.
Nigeria is different because of factors like
Dual exchange rate mechanism, impact of monetary policy, accountability, etc. The solution lies in a deep dive into it and not just merely scratching the surface through just one stand-alone policy”.
Nwosu also submitted that the policy on oil and gas in the Tinubu manifesto was done without proper consultation with industry experts, arguing that it will not work.
Another industry player, Imam Nojeem Jimoh, a former Chief Operating Officer of Taurus Oil and Gas Ltd, applauded the courage of President Bola Tinubu in taking bold step to remove subsidy.
Nojeem said: “Removal of subsidy not an end in itself but a means to curb corruption which will enable government to give succour to Nigerian citizens. No sane individual can sustain case for retention of subsidy.
“Buhari had opportunity to have washed the hand of government off subsidy throughout his eight-year rule but he failed. Nigerians would by now have been buying petrol for like N150.
“Amount being paid as subsidy is fraudulent. Daily consumption will go down by at least 40 per cent, with subsidy off. Ideally we shd be refining our crude. The fact that an individual like Dangote is able to build refinery despite the fact that successive government have failed speaks volume of the massive corruption going on in the sector.
“With the Dangote refinery coming up, the
pressure on dollars will reduce significantly and reduction in price is imminent and possible. What has made petroleum prices to be high is due to issues like arbitrage, landing cost and several other factors since all our products are imported from Europe.
“It is shocking to know that there are about 2,201 petrol stations in 16 states in Nigeria with land borders around neighbouring West Africn countries 16 states, all of which have a total capacity of 145million litres.This is part of what the removal of subsidy will combat. What this means is that Nigeria has been subsidizing petrol in Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Benin Republic and Ghana.”