President Goodluck Jonathan has moved to totally remove fuel subsidy, the president launched his crusade in Abuja on Thursday, saying Nigeria is not developing because of fuel subsidy.
Omitting the gargantuan corruption problem in Nigeria, he said total removal of subsidy on petroleum products would put an end to the importation of petroleum products and further attract investors to the oil sector.
It could be remembered that the president about this same time last year proposed total removal of subsidy on petroleum products and in spite of public protests removed subsidy on January 1, 2012, now he is at it again.
The President’s move was totally condemned and refuted with spontaneous protests by Nigerians.
President Jonathan Started this fresh campaign for the total removal of subsidy at the Presidential villa in Abuja while receiving the report of the graduating participants of the Senior Executive Course 34, 2012, of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies.
“Why is it that people are not building refineries in Nigeria despite that it is a big business? It is because of the policy of subsidy, and that is why we want to get out of it,” the President said.
He argued last year that while the total removal of subsidy could be painful to Nigerians they would be happier at the end if they could bear the initial pains.
Jonathan said, “To change a nation is like surgery. If you have a young daughter of five years who has a boil at a strategic part of the face, you as a parent leave that boil because either the young girl will cry or you take the girl to the surgeon.
“So you have the option of just robbing metholatum on the face until the boil will burst and disfigure her face or you take that child to the surgeon. On the sighting of a scalpel of the surgeon alone, the child will start crying.
“But if she bears the pains and do the incision and treat it, after some days or weeks, the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady.
“There are certain decisions that government must take that may be painful at the beginning and people must be properly informed so that they will be ready to bear the pains.”
The President said he believes Nigeria could turn around and become great within 10 years as long as the right policies are in place.
“I believe that you do not need a lifetime to change a nation. Under 10 years, Nigeria can change and people will not even believe that this is Nigeria again. Immediately you come up with strong policies in key sectors of the economy and keep it for 10 years, the change will be astronomical,” he said.
He said the reason why Canada has 16 functional refineries and Nigeria has four struggling refineries is that all the refineries in Canada are privately owned.
The oil sector is filled with scale corruption and the citizens are angry about the development, although the President has promised to probe the sector, nothing worthy of note has happened yet.
The probe committee set up by the House of Representatives subsequently found that oil thieves had defrauded the country of N1.7trn under the fuel subsidy regime.
Today the a son of the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mahmud Tukur, and children of other notable Nigerians and their companies are currently on trial for fuel fraud.
Unfortunately, Nigerians have been suffering from acute shortage of fuel for almost two months with filling stations selling, unofficially, at between N100 and N150 per litre and now with the subsidy removal campaign up again the situation might get worse except with strategic intervention.
Critics now suspect the government might be responsible for the shortage as a deliberate move to increase pump price in the New Year.