Nigerians have began to experience another drought that has become a national issue across the country, FUEL SCARCITY.
Fuel scarcity became another issue that Nigerians in some states like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kwara State, even FCT had to deal with as the new week begins.
The issue of fuel scarcity did not just begin at the weekend but since the day Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of IMF, noted at a press conference during a joint annual Spring meetings with the World Bank in Washington DC advised that the Federal Government remove fuel subsidy totally, describing it as the right thing to do.
Lagarde had said that with the low revenue mobilisation that existed in Nigeria in terms of tax to Gross Domestic Product, it was important for the country to remove fuel subsidies and move available funds into improving health, education, and infrastructure, among others.
Since that period onwards, there has been silent undertones over the IMF’s advice while some were in support, others kicked vehemently against it but the ultimate hardship of that advice was the imminent scarcity of fuels being experienced in some states at the moment with filling stations shutting down, giving room for black market business to thrive.
However, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has revealed that he will advise President Muhammadu Buhari on what to do on the issue of fuel subsidy.
Kachikwu, while fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the annual international conference of the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria in Lagos, said the removal of fuel subsidy in 2016 helped the country.
The Federal Government had on May 11, 2016 announced a new petrol price band of N135 to N145 per litre, a move that signalled the end to fuel subsidy payment to private marketers.
But the government later resorted to subsidy regime following the increase in the landing cost of petrol on the back of rising crude oil prices, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the sole importer of the product, bearing the burden of subsidising it.
“There is no doubt about the logic of trying to remove subsidy. However, the reality is that Nigeria has a very unique situation. You see the reaction immediately from the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association,” Kachikwu said.
The minister added, “So, any president who is going to make that decision will have to weigh all the factors. I did this in 2016 when we took out what was then the subsidy because without that, the country would not have survived.
“But things have changed since then. So, I need to go back, sit down, look at the [IMF] advice, look at the circumstances, and advise Mr President on what I think is best for the country.”
It would be recalled that NUPENG and PENGASSAN had in a joint statement on Sunday described as poisonous the IMF’s advice to the Federal Government on fuel subsidy.
The Minister of Finance, Ms Zainab Ahmed, said during a ministerial press briefing at the 2019 IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings that the Federal Government had “no imminent plan to remove fuel subsidy.”
“We are here to discuss with the global community on various policy issues. One of the issues that always come up in the report, especially the IMF World Economic Outlook report, is how we handle fuel subsidies. So, in principle, the IMF will say fuel subsidies are better removed so that we can use the resources for other important sectors. And in principle, that is a fact to do so,” she had said.
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