New Telegraph

Time To Crash Fuel Price

President Bola Tinubu must not shy away from the real problem bedevilling the economy – removal of subsidy on petroleum products. He is in charge and showed his direction with the announcement of a new fuel regime at his inauguration in May 2023.

Recently, he formally empowered a 31-member Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC), four months after it was established in March 2024. It is a body of the usual names well known in the economy, from Aliko Dangote to Tony Elumelu. Tinubu has been in power for over one year.

The promises made in 2023 have not lifted the economy to a sustainable level. The bottom line is that life has become unbearable. People are hungry and are tired of policies that only make news headlines but are not effective in action. When the President assumed office, it was unthinkable to buy Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Lagos and Abuja above the pump price of N187 per litre.

For reasons best known to the government, these two major capitals are more consumer friendly in fuel distribution. The hike as Tinubu’s entry behaviour in 2023 has left even the rich struggling to balance their accounts. The downtrodden are not down anymore. They have been further buried below the six feet usually allowed for the dead to rest in peace.

To be fair to Mr. President, he has done some policy reversals, like stemming the indiscriminate hike in fees by federal universities and delay in implementation of the electricity tariff hike across all the bands and instead limited it to only Band A users. We must commend him for listening to the cries of the people.

However, what sounds strange is the insistence on this obnoxious fuel price hike. This is because the President understands the politics of fuel, having been in the opposition for donkey years and fuelling protests in Lagos when former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, did the same in January 2012.

The best advice the PECC can offer Tinubu is to remove the burden of killing the people following the removal of subsidy on petroleum products as announced on May 29, 2023. This is not the time to propound economic theories that are only relevant on paper.

Perhaps, the PECC should remind him that in Kenya, President William Ruto hearkened to the voice of the people by refusing assent to the Finance Bill forwarded by the legislature. Government is for the people, not for parliamentarians and the executive.

Ruto went further to shrink the office of the First Lady, reduce the number of government aides by 50 per cent and scrap about 47 agencies of state

Ruto went further to shrink the office of the First Lady, reduce the number of government aide’s by 50 per cent and scrap about 47 agencies of state. This is the kind of sacrifice Nigeria needs. The comatose economy should not be used to grind the poor while people in power grow fatter.

As Petroleum minister, Tinubu should be worried more than fellow Nigerians. When he met with labour leaders in June 2023, he promised that the Port Harcourt refinery would resume production in December 2023. More than a year after that famous remark, the Garden City is still quiet.

It is difficult to believe the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) anymore. Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari must be tired of excuses, so we can excuse him. The man responsible for all earnings and shortcomings in the industry is the Commander-in-Chief. Dangote addressed a press conference on behalf of the PECC.

We hope he has told the Presidency about the inhibitions and limitations faced by the Dangote refinery. That is an important part of the resolution. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must begin to bite. Stories about oil thieves do not interest Nigerians any more. If they are part of the problem, these criminals must be arrested and prosecuted.

There is no difference between jumbo robbers and petty thieves. Senator Seriake Dickson was governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He has given a clue and is very much available should the EFCC need some assistance. The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) will be useful with information on what is going on in the region.

It is unacceptable that impoverished Nigerians continue to agonise while a few remain resolute in the jamboree of wasting our natural and national resources. The people are not asking for too much, there should be some breathing space. Tinubu has the power to go back to the old order or adjust upwards, slightly. The Federal Government should lead by example. Politicians must tighten their belts. EFCC has more work to do.

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