Oodua groups support deregulation of oil sector, says subsidy unsustainable
Yoruba self-determination groups, yesterday, cautioned against the use of strike to address Nigeria issues, saying that dialogue is more efficient for the people to hold the government to account. The groups, speaking against the backdrop of the fuss surrounding the removal of fuel subsidy, said total deregulation of the oil sector is the way to go.
The groups, under the aegis of ‘Oodua Self-determination Groups’ added that in the spirit of free enterprise, there is a need to let the market dictate and consumers have a choice of purchase, saying competition, not monopoly, will bring about lower prices in the oil sector, adding that monopoly of fuel importation by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alone must be discontinued.
The group’s spokesman, Rasak Olokoba of the Oodua Youth Movement, however, urged President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to make it their priority to commit to the restructuring of Nigeria into true federalism.
Olokoba maintained that the system of government in operation currently under the 1999 Constitution remains unsustainable and cannot deliver the dividends that are accrued to the people.
He said: “As far back as during the campaigns, President Tinubu made no pretense that he would muster the political courage and the political will to take tough and hard decisions.
“One of such hard decisions concerns the issue of fuel subsidy. For this year 2023, Nigeria budgeted N11 trillion of its oil revenue on subsidising petrol alone. This cannot continue. This is good money going down the drain, with little or nothing to show for it. This huge amount can be channeled into solving our several deficits, including: Infrastructural, housing, education, healthcare, and generally upgrading the quality of life for Nigerians. It will also help strengthen the naira.
“To keep the pump price of petrol at N165/litre, the Federal Government currently spends above N600 as subsidy on every litre of fuel consumed in Nigeria. Our daily petrol consumption in Nigeria is 66.8 million litres. Therefore, petrol subsidy costs the government N40.1 billion every single day and N1.243 trillion every month.
‘Due to this subsidy, Nigeria’s economy that depends 90 percent on petroleum exports for its revenue, and one-third of its GDP, has been recording zero revenue from the sector. Tinubu has said that he inherited the assets and liabilities of the last regime. Nigeria currently owes massive local and foreign debts to the tune of 871 trillion. That is our reality.
“Another reality is that if we don’t kill subsidy, subsidy will kill us. Has anyone wondered why is it that since the year 2000, when the Nigerian government gave about 20 refinery licences to private companies, not one refinery has been built, apart from Dangote? investors and licence holders found they could not recover their investments due to the artificially low price structure caused by fuel subsidies. Total deregulation of the oil sector is the way to go.
“If prices appear to be on the high side today due to deregulation, the situation can only be temporary. We should borrow lessons from the telecommunications industry.”
He also explained that President Tinubu has plan to increase the minimum wage from the current N30,000, while urging the people to give the new government a chance, adding that apart from unfolding plans to bring the refineries back on their feet, palliatives are also underway for the poor to cushion the effects of zero-fuel subsidy.
At the conference were leaders of civil society groups, including Comrade Wale Adeoye, Chief Kunle Osodi of Agbekoya, Wasiu Alabi of Oodua Peoples Congress, Jubril 0000u of ORF, Afolabi Omotoso of OPC Reformed, Sadam of OPC New Era, Sunday Akinmoye and Taiwo Adeyeri.