The attention of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari has been drawn to a statement credited to President Goodluck Jonathan that the former Head of State has thrown his weight behind the anti-people measure called “subsidy removal” which the PDP government wants to force down the throat of Nigerians.
Speaking at the 17th Nigerian Economic Summit(NSE) in Abuja on Thursday,the President said:
“That is why I can now appreciate people like General Buhari,who in terms of politics was my major competitor, he is the only one person who has come up clearly that the issue of subsidizing petroleum products is a fraud. He is not playing politics with the development and future of Nigeria”
While it is true that General Buhari has dismissed what government officials call “subsidy” as a fraud, his position has been misrepresented and misapplied by the President to suit the unpopular measure the government wants to take.
General Buhari insists that most of the elements that goes into what is called “subsidy” is the cost of corruption in the opaque business of oil import that has become a cash cow for the alliance of oil importers and government officials bleeding Nigeria white.
He maintains that the sharp practices that characterize importation of petroleum products suggest that the state of our refineries is a deliberate sabotage by these powerful forces who are doing illicit business at the expense of the welfare of the people of Nigeria.
“If this were not so, why is it that the public does not know how much a litre of petrol is bought from the international market and the places we are buying from? Why is consignment deliberately left at the Ports for I4 days to attract demurrage? Why go and pile charges at private jetties again which is also part of the landing costs” he asked.
He further buttressed his assertion with the deadlock between the Federal Government and States over the N250b that was to be deducted as first line charge for “oil subsidy” for only September 2011 when that was the amount budgeted for the whole of 2011:
“It took rejection of cheques by the states for about 2 weeks before N65b was returned from this amount into the pool. Why has the cost of subsidy been rising monthly since January when volume of import has not increased and prices of petroleum products have not gone up in the international market” he queried.
As man who has stood against corruption in both private and public spheres all his life, General Buhari cannot lend his support to a measure that aids corruption and further impoverishes the people as all the Federal Government wants to do is to jerk up the pump prices.
His panacea is that Government must fix our refineries and facilitate the building of new ones so that we can refine locally for the benefits of our economy and the people and derive maximum benefits from the 114 additives of oil.
When this is done Nigeria can be in league with other OPEC countries where the cost of fuel is Saudi Arabia $0.12(N18 per litre),Kuwait $0.79(N32 per litre),UAE $0.37(N57 per litre),Venezuela $0.05(N7per litre),Qatar $0.22(N34 per litre),Iran $0.42(N17 per litre) and Algeria $0.20(N31per litre).
Pending when the above will be done,the Federal Government must get out of fuel importation and let the marketers do their own business of importation in a competitive way that can modulate prices up and down.
This is General Buhari’s way of rising beyond partisanship to offer suggestion in the overall interest of the country- not by backing oil cabal agenda of impoverishing the people to satisfy the greed of a few.
Spokesman to General Buhari