By Reno Omokri
On Friday, December 22, 2017, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, said the landing cost for petrol is N171.40 per litre. He further added that the government was bearing an extra cost of about N26.40 per litre for the product so that Nigerians could purchase the product at the government approved and regulated price of N145 per litre.
For those who do not know the import of Baru’s statement, it means that the Buhari government has been subsidising the cost of petrol.
The problem is that during the campaign, then-candidate Buhari said he did not know what subsidy is and accused the Jonathan administration of scamming Nigerians through the subsidy scheme. Again, on December 28, 2015, President Buhari said he was ending subsidy. On May 12, 2016 the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu said subsidy had been removed. The price of petrol was increased on that basis to N145. Finally, on December 15, 2016, Vice President Osinbajo said there was no more fuel subsidy in Nigeria.
The question is that, given the revelation by Baru, Nigerians now need to know who is lying amongst President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, minister Kachikwu and GMD Baru?
This question is even more poignant when you consider that there is no budgetary provision in both the 2016 and 2017 budgets for subsidy payments. Ditto for the 2018 budget, which is yet to be passed but is not yet to be padded!
In other words, if the so-called anti-corruption administration of President Buhari has been paying subsidy, that fact alone is an act of corruption. Specifically, spending monies that are accruable to the federation without any legislative appropriation is a crime of misappropriation.
And then a few days after Baru’s Freudian slip, the Vice President had a snafu when he said that it was the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and not the Federal Government that was paying subsidy.
That Vice President Osinbajo could even say it is NNPC and not Federal Government that pays subsidy is an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians. Does he think us so vapid and dense that we cannot see through this subterfuge?
What is NNPC? Is it not an agency belonging to the Federal Government? Who is the minister in charge of the NNPC? Is it not the President? Who is the chairman of the NNPC board? Is it not the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, a member of the federal cabinet? The Vice President ought to remember he is a pastor.
The truth is that for years, the Buhari administration has been lying to the Nigerian people and that lie came to light this Yuletide season when the Buhari government simultaneously ran out of funds and lies and could not borrow enough to hide the fact that it has been paying subsidy at a rate higher than the preceding government which it criticised.
Do not forget that in a rare moment of honesty on July 12, 2017, the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, admitted that (and I quote her) “We cannot borrow anymore, we just have to generate funds domestically to fund our budget. Mobilise revenue to fund the necessary budget increase.
The truth is that this government has financially near bankrupted Nigeria to the extent that something like one quarter of our budget is going to servicing debt and despite what the propagandists in government say, they will have no alternative but to increase the price of petrol from N145 to at least N171.40 per liter (the landing cost) but more realistically to N190/200 per litre if they are to make a profit.
And to show how uncoordinated and shambolic this administration is, the President’s main spokesman, Femi Adesina was on TV saying that this administration will ensure that Nigeria stops importing fuel by 2019.
The Buhari administration has not built a single refinery. They have not repaired the old ones. If you believe Femi Adesina, then ask Buhari if he has made Naira equal to Dollar as he promised during the campaigns.
But of course, if his boss does not even know his real age, how can we expect his spokesman to know that to stop importing fuel you have to increase refining capacity locally?
President Buhari stunned the nation when he said, “I thought I was 74 but I was told I was 75.”
My question to my readers is this: How can a President with ‘football age’ achieve his goals in government? If he can’t remember his age, how can he remember his campaign promises? No wonder he has been denying his promises left, right and centre.
And the man can’t help himself. He just goes from one snafu to the other. The other day he said he will never please his children at the detriment of Nigerians. Really? Can he recall that he instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give forex to Nigerians for the school fees of their children abroad in 2015?
Speaking to Al-Jazeera on March 5, 2016 the President said, “Those who can afford foreign education for their children can go ahead but Nigeria cannot afford to allocate foreign exchange for those who decide to train their children outside the country. We can’t just afford it. That is the true situation we are in.”
Many parents pulled their wards from schools abroad, but Buhari’s kids remained schooling in the U.K. How a man who claimed that he had to take a loan from Union Bank to buy the All Progressives Congress nomination form could suddenly afford to simultaneously train 3 children in the U.K. is a story for another day. And yet this major hypocrite had the gall to say that he would not please his children at the interest of Nigeria.
Here is a President that engages in blame games and a failure to lead and who suffers from a messiah complex that makes him think he is better, more honest and more effective than any other Nigerian even though the facts on the ground paint a completely different picture.
Facts are very stubborn things. Let us consider a few of them.
The Buhari administration says it cannot fund its own budget of N8.6 trillion and therefore wants to go on another unprecedented borrowing spree to the tune of $5.5 billion. But I have some questions.
If the Nigerian Custom Service generated N1 trillion as it claimed and the Nigerian Ports Authority made N400 billion, while the Federal Inland Revenue Service received N2.5 trillion in taxes and another N800 billion in Value Added Taxes all in 2017, without even adding the $28 billion (N10 trillion) Nigeria made from the oil and gas sector this year, and the other billions made from lesser revenue generating agencies like SEC, JAMB, airports and stamp duties, how come we cannot fund the 2018 budget of only N8.6 trillion?
Some may ask me, what about the other tiers of government? Don’t they get a share of this money?
The reality however is that the total amount generated from all the revenue generating agencies and from the oil and gas sector is over N15 trillion. Per the present allocation formula, the lion’s share of 52.68% is channelled to the Federal Government, while 26.70% goes to the 36 states and 20.60% to the 776 local government areas.
In other words, the Federal Government’s share of 52.68% gives it a figure close to N8 trillion. So why do they have to borrow $5.5 billion? The revenue from oil is pure rent because production costs have already been subtracted. Now if the President does not know his own age, how can he begin to ask the right questions of his dodgy Economic Management Team which includes a finance minister whose highest educational qualification is a degree from a London Polytechnic with a bad educational record and a post HND diploma?
But I have talked enough. This is a season to be jolly and I fear that what I have written above would rob Nigerians of their joy, but someone has to say the bitter truth.
But before I go, let me say that in a land suffering from a dearth of servant leaders, I believe Governor Ayo Fayose showed extraordinary servant leadership by releasing the fuel in the fuel dump of Ekiti State Government House to the public.
I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to follow this example. Any little that can help people celebrate this season will be appreciated.
You don’t need a pastoral relationship with God. You need a personal relationship with God. You don’t need to call your GSM provider before you speak to your father on earth and you don’t need to consult your pastor before you can speak to your Father in heaven. If you want God’s blessings, then give to your parents, then to the poor and then to evangelism, in that order. Don’t give to enable your pastor live in luxury. Peter, Paul and other disciples all had businesses. Pastoring was their vocation, not their business #RenosNuggets.