The deregulation of the downstream sector has been very topical in the recent years.
The conventional economics of market forces of supply and demand determining the pump price better applies to progressive economies.
Here in Nigeria, the mumbo-jombo style of economics application can only be imagined than real. To the average Nigerian, fuel subsidy is about the only visible benefit they enjoy from the government.
To them it’s an untouchable area. Government arguements have been that Nigerians enjoy the cheapest fuel in the world compared to other countries both oil and non oil producing.
But the government failed to factor in multiple other benefits that the citizens of other countries enjoy that are not available here in Nigeria. There is,no evidence of a welfare state in the least form being practiced by any government past and present in our national history. What really are the citizens of Nigeria gaining from government?
The culture of widespread corruption have negated the responsibilities of the government to its citizens. The antecedents of governments in this country have made Nigerians to expect little or nothing from their leadership.
This lack of vision and irresponsibility on the part of our leaders have put the nation on derailment. Is the fuel subsidy really working in Nigeria? Many times, the government announces spending trillions of naira in fuel subsidy, the aggregated fraud and corruption perpetrated in this sector as a result of the subsidy.
Many politicians and high placed Nigerians have been tried and convicted on fuel subsidy fraud but no justice done and the matter dies a natural death or is swept under the carpet. Privilleged Nigerians have so much enriched themselves through the fraud schemes in government fuel subsidy, thereby making Nigerians buy fuel at higher prices than government specified. Previous governments made several attempts to remove subsidy on petrol but the sensitive reactions by stakeholders made them rescind on such proposal. The argument has been if subsidy is removed, where will the saved money be appropriated? The government each time failed to articulate right.
Recently, the news making rounds is the intended removal of 1.8 trillion naira fuel subsidy and appropriate it on welfare scheme of giving 40 million Nigerians 5000 naira annually. From the calculations it dosen’t make sense. Very inarticulate.
Saving 1.8 trillion dollars annually to spend 2.4 trillion annually on welfare scheme. There are more viable ways of reinvesting the saved money for better benefits to Nigerians. The proposed welfare scheme is another means of making money available for corrupt politicians. The government should think wisely before making any move that could result to a very costly mistake. Nigerians will not take it low. It’s time for all stakeholders to be proactive.
Patriot Patrick Eholor is a foremost human rights defender. He writes from Spain.