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Buhari And Skyrocketing Fuel Import Bills: How Far Can We Go On This?

Without mincing words, there is definitely something that is going on within the NNPC system that ordinary Nigerians and even those in leadership positions cannot understand. The report that Nigeria despite the difficulties in sourcing funds to service this year’s national budget spent N958.3 billion importing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, from May to September 2016 is at best embarrassing for this country of double speaking leaders. And tying this huge import figure to the government-inflicted worsening foreign exchange position this country has found itself is even more embarrassing because it is at best a very wrong impression and at worst an outright deceit.

The new petrol imports, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) citing figures supplied by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulating Agency (PPPRA) represents more than 120 per cent increase five months earlier and an increase of more than N80 billion within the same period last year.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its latest report stated that the Federal Government’s imports of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) between January and April this year was N431.6 billion and that the country had imported about N874 billion worth of petroleum products during the same period in 2015.

NBS’ data showed that Nigeria imported about N254.6 billion worth of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in the same period compared to N118.7 billion products in the previous quarter.

The value of imported Household Kerosene (HKK) also increased from N20.2 billion last year to N25.5 billion in the current period under review.

The rising fuel imports had put additional pressure on the country’s foreign reserves and contributed to the worsening economic situation.

It would be recalled that this same Government has been trumpeting that it was doing all within its powers to ensure it brings back to life our three and half existing refining plants to boost local production of fuel products. Should we now believe that the so-called deregulation and privatisation policies of government are based on importing petroleum products for domestic consumption rather than revamping the existing refineries and even moving to building new ones even if we opt for modular versions?

How can we keep hearing this sort of mind blowing expenditures on commodities we should be producing domestically? We have the raw materials and well-qualified indigenous expertise ready to work but the tragedy remains that of a leadership that is either naive or outrightly confused as they keep displaying lack of will power to be honest and do the right things.

As rightly said, “shallowness in reasoning by people who were supposed to lead us not only in government but in different sectors of the economy, has been and continues to be the greatest undoing of this nation in its pendulous march to any form of advancement.”

These same people doling out these monies under different guises told Nigerians at the early life of this dispensation that the government has fully withdrawn all forms of subsidy payments for petroleum products? Did the government not tell us at the ushering in of the current fuel price regime that the nation’s downstream has been deregulated and if so be, how do we keep hearing of government’s continuing interference in commercial aspects of the downstream sector particularly the fuel distribution subsector?

Industry experts would confirm that the N958.3 billion spent in just five months on importing petrol alone could fully build five 20,000-barrels-per-day mini (modular) refineries. Anything from $75 million to $250 million can give us full blown refining plant of various throughputs.  

I have severally said it that none of the nation’s existing refineries would ever be allowed to function optimally as long as the NNPC and the federal government keep doing this hide and seek game of stopping subsidy but secretly spending more on the same issue under different kinds of subheadings.

Has it not been serially alleged that people who are neck-deep into this fuel importation business sponsor some of the attacks of our oil facilities particularly crude oil feedstock supply lines to the existing refinery sites?

Do we need to tell the government and its agencies that people massively benefitting from government’s continued “secret/underground” payment of petroleum equalisation fee may actually be responsible for the breaches and outright compromise of the nation’s existing petroleum products pipeline distribution network from the coastal storage facilities to the hinterland?

What gave rise to the “Occupy Nigeria” protest march? Was it not perceived fraud in importation of petroleum products by the federal government through the NNPC? If the current administrators of the nation’s oil business are paying far more than what was paid even under the former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison Madueke who is being prosecuted for allegedly mismanaging this same oil import deals, will not God not judge us for keeping quiet and watching worse things happen in the same sector?

Why is nobody, even the civil society groups, talking about the ongoing drain or rather massive fraud in payments of the evil conscription called petroleum equalisation fee? Nigerians would be amazed if government should release accurate figures of monies channelled through PEF to cancel transportation differentials in haulage costs of moving fuel products to different parts of the country especially the far north. Is this not a case of saying one thing openly and doing a completely different thing behind!

What is the status of the 450, 000 barrels of crude oil NNPC takes everyday to exchange for products since the corporation deliberately refused to refine at home? These outrageous figures of import bills were they incurred in addition to the 450, 000 barrels NNPC takes everyday for its swap operations? Walai, we are not serious yet as a nation of peoples!


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