Tinubu, investigate rot in refineries repair, fuel importation before hasty subsidy removal


The newly Inaugurated President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu while making his speech has assured Nigerians of his determination to govern, rather than rule them, promising to engage in consultations and never to dictate to the people.

At his inaugural address on Monday at the Eagle Square in Abuja as the 16th President of Nigeria, Tinubu emphasised that there was no reason to continue with the current fuel subsidy. He stressed that his administration’s readiness to remove fuel subsidy.

He commended the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor. “Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions,” he said.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on their part has kicked against the subsidy removal at this critical time of economic downturn. The  labour union warned against making ‘hasty and arrogant’ pronouncement when the nation’s refineries are yet to work.

A top source at the Labour House told journalists that the position of the Congress on the removal of subsidy has not changed. The source pointed out that the Organised Labour had told government to look at the gas deposit in Nigeria, which research shows would last for about five hundred years. Moving away from Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) to gas is doable and is even cleaner as it is eco-friendly.

“Why should the President be concerned about removing subsidy when he should tell Nigerians how he intends to make sure the nation’s refineries work. If the refineries are working, the issue of subsidy would naturally disappear. The Congress had always argued that you can’t remove subsidy in an import-driven economy like Nigeria. Put our refineries to work and all this matter would be solved.

“We are waiting for him, we have provided alternative on this issue and the government is looking the other way because they know what they are doing.  At the appropriate time, we would make consultation with our sister Labour Centres, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the civil society allies and engage the government. Like we have said before today, that the new government must put on their thinking cap, there are many unresolved labour issues which the outgone government of Buhari has left. We expect President Tinubu to engage Labour in every policy of his government rather than making hasty and arrogant  pronouncements that would hit  brick wall.”

Despite the labour union’s outcry the truth is that with the fuel subsidy in place, does the common man on the street benefits from it? Therefore, Tinubu’s Administration should do the following instead of the hasty subsidy removal pronouncement even though a press release yesterday put the responsibility on immediate Past President Muhammadu Buhari. This includes the need to constitute investigative panels to examine rot in funds released for refineries repairs, fuel importation account of NNPCL on daily demand figure of 66million, ensure optimal performance of the refineries and  sustain crude supply as swap for products to Dangote refineries so as to end fuel importation.

For so many years, the country has been grappling with the intractable task of rehabilitating its four refineries including two in Port Harcourt, the Port Harcourt Refining Company with a combined capacity of 210,000 bpsd, the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company with 125,000 bpsd capacity and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company with 110,000 bpsd. All four refineries have a combined capacity of 445,000 bpd.

Ever since the country’s four refineries packed up, successive governments in the country abandoned them and resorted to exporting crude oil to countries in Europe for refinement which imposed a heavy burden on the country because it has to go back to those countries to purchase refined products. Nigeria has been making fruitless efforts to rehabilitate the four refineries. In 2020, a total of N81.41billion was expended on the four refineries between January and August of that year, apart from billions of dollars expended by the past government to get the refineries working again.

Finally, the Federal Government in partnership with Dangote team must ensure that the refinery is sustained to maintain the drive of refining crude oil. Government agencies should resolve their face-off on the subsidy without inflicting pains on the common masses.