Falana tasks Tinubu to come clean on removal of fuel subsidy

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read
Femi Falana SAN

Human rights lawyer and Chair,  Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Femi Falana SAN has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to open up to Nigerians on the issue of fuel subsidy.

In a released statement titled “Subsidy again?” Falana said that there were insinuations both from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) that fuel subsidy have been reintroduced despite Tinubu’s declaration at his inauguration that fuel subsidy was gone, almost a year ago. The two organizations had stated that Nigeria still pay over one trillion on subsidy monthly.  “The Federal Government without any further delay, confirm or deny the serious allegation and end the opacity surrounding the importation of fuel from foreign countries”, Falana said.

The statement reads:

During his inauguration on May 29, 2003, President Bola Tinubu announced the end of fuel subsidy and total deregulation of petroleum products. But at the recently concluded Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) held in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Robert Dickerman revealed that the Nigerian Government still pays N1 trillion every month for petrol subsidy.

Mr. Dickerman who made the disclosure while participating in a panel discussion disclosed that a significant subsidy is still in place, adding that this has contributed to the affordable price of the product and potentially fueling smuggling activities to neighbouring countries.

Before the disclosure, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the federal government to completely phase out petrol and electricity subsidies in the country. The IMF made the recommendation while advising Nigeria on pathways to restoring macroeconomic stability in its ‘Post Financing Assessment (PFA)’ report.

On its own part, the World Bank has alleged partial return of fuel subsidy in a report titled, ‘Turning The Corner (From Reforms and Renewed Hope to Results)” which was presented in Abuja last December. In justifying its claim then, the World Bank said that based on the official exchange rate then, the petrol should sell for around N750 per litre and not the N650 currently being paid by Nigerians.

Curiously, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has not deemed it fit to deny the serious allegation that fuel subsidy has been restored. Since there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the 2023 and 2024 Appropriation Acts the federal government should, without any further delay, confirm or deny the serious allegation and end the opacity surrounding the importation of fuel from foreign countries.

It would be recalled that after the Muhammadu Buhari administration announced that it had removed subsidy on petrol, it turned round to spend N11 trillion on the so called “under recovery” within a period of 8 years. Therefore, instead of urging Nigerians to continue to endure the hardship caused by the removal of subsidies on petrol, the Bola Tinubu administration. If the federal government is spending as much as N1 trillion on fuel subsidy per month, it is high time the policy was reviewed in the interest of the Nigerian people.

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