President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that palliatives be put in place to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal on the masses.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, disclosed this to reporters in Abuja on Thursday after meeting with the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, at the party’s national secretariat.
According to Kyari, there is no going back on the petrol subsidy removal because Nigeria can no longer afford subsidy.
He said: “There was subsidy in 2022; but in 2023, not a single naira was provided for the purpose of financing the subsidy. And ultimately, we held back our fiscal obligations, we still have a net balance of over N2.8trn that the federation should have given back to the NNPC.
“For any company, when you have negative N2.8trn, there’s no company in the whole of Africa that’ll lend to you. You cannot have receivables. The provision of subsidy is there but absolutely there’s no funding for it. It means it’s only on paper. So, it doesn’t exist.
“It’s very obvious that we can no longer afford it. Subsidy bills have piled up. The country is not able to settle NNPC for the money we are spending on the subsidy.
“Therefore, pricing these petroleum at the market is the right thing to do at this time. We believe this will benefit the overall country in the long run and in a long term.
“I’m aware that Mr President has directed some engagement and some palliatives will be put in place. And I’m very sure this will happen.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, in a statement on Thursday by its acting director, Isa Sanusi, said the petrol subsidy removal must not worsen poverty in Nigeria. He said Tinubu’s decision to remove the subsidy had left millions of Nigerians terrified about the knock-on effects it would have on their daily lives.
“Many are concerned that they will be unable to meet the costs of education, food and healthcare. The government is yet to suggest any ways to mitigate the impact of this decision for people on low incomes.
“While all countries are required to eventually remove all fossil fuel subsidies to meet their human rights obligations in the context of the climate crisis, they should not do so in a way that undermines the ability of people on low incomes to secure their right to an adequate standard of living. It is therefore vital that the removal of the subsidy is accompanied by social cushioning and protection measures.
“Nigerians should not have to pay the price of decades of political and economic mismanagement of the subsidy scheme. The authorities must finally respond to longstanding demands by civil society and parliamentarians to investigate the fuel market chain and hold accountable all those involved in smuggling, hoarding and ‘subsidy scams’ — regardless of rank or status.
“The Nigerian authorities must urgently put in place measures to protect the rights of people most affected by the removal of the fuel subsidies and prioritize addressing widespread hunger, higher unemployment and the rapidly falling standard of living.”
Earlier yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress said it had no plan to hold any nationwide protest today against the petrol subsidy removal.
It said though it was outraged by what it described as “mindless price increase which is intended to bring untold hardship to ordinary Nigerians”, no protest yet.
NLC President Joe Ajaero, in a statement by the congress’ head of information unit, Benson Upah, said the labour would hold an organ meeting to deliberate on the new fuel price regime.
However, the Coalition of Northern Groups knocked the NLC over its “slow reaction” to the petrol subsidy removal.
CNG spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in a statement, said: “The NLC always makes the public believe that it is protecting their interests, only to betray the course and negotiate with the government at the expense of the suffering masses.”
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Transparency International-Nigeria, in a statement by its Executive Director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, urged Tinubu to tackle the fraudulent regime in the fuel pricing to get across the controversies surrounding fuel subsidy removal. The Conference of Nigeria Parties, through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary James Ezema, yesterday urged the government to exercise caution in implementation of the petrol subsidy removal, saying the policy “is worsening the suffering of the masses.”
By Saawua Terzungwe, Idowu Isamotu, Philip S. Clement, Abbas Jimoh