Members of Nigeria’s Organized Private Sector (OPS) have described the country’s lingering fuel scarcity as a disgrace, saying it was unacceptable that a subsidized product worth N165 per litre was being sold at prices ranging from N300 to N650 per litre across the country.
Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association for Small and Medium Enterprise (NASME), National Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and National Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) are among the members.
They stated that, while they support the removal of the fuel subsidy regime in June 2023, as specified in the Appropriations Act for 2023, the government should make every effort to complete the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the nation’s four refineries before that date.
They also advised the government to launch a judicial investigation involving employers and worker’s representatives to identify those responsible for the fuel subsidy.
“The debate over the removal of fuel subsidies has lingered for many years, with stakeholders having differing views,” said OPS members in a statement issued on their behalf by NECA.
”However, the stance of the Organized Private Sector in Nigeria has been the gradual removal with a clear roadmap and cushioning mechanism for the citizens.
“It should be noted that over a decade, the country has spent well over N20 trillion on fuel subsidies. In 2022 alone, over N5 trillion was expended and over N3 trillion was budgeted for the same in the 2023 budget.
”It thus becomes worrisome that the same product that is being subsidized and supposed to be sold at a pump price of about N165 per litre is being sold for over N300 and in some instances N650 per litre across the nation.
“Since 1973 when the fuel subsidy mechanism was introduced as a tool to cushion the landing cost of the petroleum products as a result of the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries, the subsidy has taken a frightening turn, becoming a major drain in the purse of the nation.
”It is no gainsaying, that the subsidy regime as currently operated is shrouded in secrecy and fraught with corruption.
“The humongous amount spent in the guise of subsidy regime is literally being used to subsidize inefficiency, corruption and consumption. In other climes, these funds would have been judiciously used for more productive activities that will directly impact the lives of citizens, most especially the provision of infrastructural facilities.”