OIL MARKETERS AND THE QUESTION OF FUEL SUSIDY

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BY: IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH
The lingering scarcity of petroleum products in an oil rich society like Nigeria has left so many questions unanswered. It has been discovered to the handwork of the independent oil marketers who collaborate with relevant agencies to divert petroleum products meant for local distribution which they sell at exorbitant prices. Yes truly we have petroleum resources but we are donkeys when it comes to local supply, the goddess of greed is disturbing the distribution.
Noting to justify that the oil rich society belongs to everybody. Yet the federal government pays billions of naira to subsidize these products for the less privileged but there is no positive impact on them.
It is a pity that Nigeria is an oil producing country where a litre of fuel is being sold at a staggering price of between N150-N180 instead of the pump price of N87 per litre. The independent oil marketers have been making billions of naira from
the business of subsidy. Though the pipe line and products company claims that it has revoked the licenses of some independent oil marketers that hijack the products but that could not stop the fuel scarcity, it has continue to skyrocket unabatedly because of the diversion of these products.
Investigations have revealed that even the government owned NNPC out let is also involved in the illegal dealing and hijacking of these products hence the scarcity will continue to linger as long as these associations within the downstream sector remain in the illegal business of getting rich quick. The issue of subsidizing petroleum
products for the common masses has been defeated. Many National and international bodies are therefore calling on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to withdraw the subsidies or find a lasting solution to it.
But most tycoons whose wealth emanated from the nation’s treasury are discouraging the government from withdrawing the subsidy.
Then who are they worshipping, money? One sticking petroleum is the nation’s lost of direction. Is it the cat or the horse? The answer remains obscure! Nigeria has spent billions from the day former president Obasanjo came into power on subsidy yet fuel scarcity is increasing. Nobody cares to checkmate these increasing problems of the
country. If it is a business, Nigeria is therefore operating on a big loss.
Most of the people who lift fuel trucks from the depots do not carry them to their intended destinations instead they are off-loading the petroleum products at private filling station where they sell higher than the recommended pump prices without sanction by the regulatory bodies. The problem is not all about non-availability of the products
as claimed by the independent oil marketers but diversion is the main cause of scarcity.
The issue of unavailability is brought in divert the attention of Nigerians to believe that the problem is the short fall in supply by the NNPC yet the petroleum equalization fund (PEF) remains silence on the issue against bridging the pump price.
Most front pages of our National dailies have been infiltrated with fuel scarcity everywhere. There are politicians who stand on the practice while still, there are others who are hell bent on frustrating any move to stop the government from withdrawing the fuel subsidies that do not favour the common masses. Sad enough, they are known for engaging in war of words and spiting of political venom against those who want the withdrawal of the subsidy as it is not helping the people.
Pathetically, their in ordinate tenacious questing to retain the subsidy has often truncated the exerted effort of the government towards re-building a new Nigeria. It is worth mentioning that this is often about getting rich quick at the expense of the public. No sane person can contemplate the Nigeria’s political tales in recent times without despairs. This has continue to proliferate because the root cause seems mystified to many.
Recently, the senate president, senator Bukola Saraki revealed that Nigeria has lost 32 US dollars to fuel subsidy fraud, adding that fuel subsidy management is responsible for the fraud. He blamed the federal government for issuing licenses to oil marketers for selfish reason.
From his findings, one can agree that the major problem remains the subsidy management. The petroleum products pricing and regulation agency (PPPRA) has done nothing but empty national propaganda that the agency will revoke the licenses.
For instance, in Zamfara State, the Nigeria security and civil defence corps had arrested many people and trucks of petroleum products such as kerosene for diverting them to private filling stations and black marketers. These are products meant for the public at government approved prices yet kerosene is being sold at average of N200-N250 per litre which has forced many households to be using fire woods and charcoals for their domestic use as many people cannot afford the high cost of kerosene. Almost all the people interviewed by this reporter at many petrol stations and black markets in Gusau blamed the fuel scarcity on corruption saying that this has prevented Nigerians from enjoying the full benefits of petroleum subsidy even though the federal government has not increased the official pump prices.
The subsidy was aimed at reaching the common as a result of poverty alleviation but what is happening now? Instead, the funds are dished out as a handout the oil marketers who sponsor politicians and not to the right people that the subsidy were meant for. The politicians are yet to come to terms with the reality of the poverty situation in
Nigeria. The main reason why life has become so harsh to Nigerians has to do with the way people on top are handling the economy as if it is their family property.
The questions many people ask today whether there is any hope to the suffering masses in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari? How many years will it take us to reach the Promised Land? Nigerian politicians riding on the crest of impoverished masses for selfish purpose.

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