The Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has said there has never been any doubt about the logic of trying to remove fuel subsidy but that the reality is that Nigeria has a very unique situation.
The minister who was reacting to the advised given by the World Bank that the Federal Government should withdraw fuel subsidy said that the organised labour and others are not seeing through the economic sense in taking such decision by any president.
Emmanuel Ibe kachikwu who spoke to journalists at the second annual international conference by the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) holding in Lagos stated: “ You saw the reactions of the organised labour. There is a lot of anti populism against the decision, so any president that is going to take that decision must weigh all the factors. So will have to look at what the World Bank said and advised the president the best way to go about”
On the issue of fuel scarcity, he said that he went round Lagos yesterday morning and discovered that there were no serious queues as reported in the media. I know there were some pockets of queues over the weekend but very minor and this was due to logistics issues and it has been dealt with. I was told that the reserve they have is sufficient for 28 days. The problem in warri was also due to vessel logistics because there are about 15 vessels in warri.
He said there would be occasional difficulties in respect of this logistics but what is important is that there is immediate reaction and the problem is dealt with. “So it is not because of scarcity of products but logistics. This the information i have”.
Zainab Ahmed, Finance Minister, has however said the Nigerian government has no plan to remove fuel subsidy “at this time”.
“We are here to discuss with the global community on various policy issues. One of the issues that always come up, especially in the IMF Article IV, is how we handle fuel subsidy.
“So, in principle, the IMF would say fuel subsidies are better removed so that you can use the resources for other important sectors, which is good advice, but in Nigeria, we do not have any plans to remove fuel subsidies at this time, because we have not yet designed buffers that will enable us to remove the subsidy and provide cushions for our people.
“So, there is no plan to remove fuel subsidy. We will be working with various groups to find out the best approach if we have to. We discussed this very frequently at the Economic Management Team, but what is the alternative? We haven’t yet found viable alternatives. So, we are not yet at the point of removing fuel subsidies.”