Nigerians consumed 20.8billion litres of petrol in 2019, which comes to about 57.2million litres every day says the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics citing based on data provided by the Petroleum Products Pricing Agency, which it said it verified.
A breakdown of the data indicates that the South West region consumed 6.24million liters or 30.38 percent of the total volume followed by the North Central which accounted for 17.87 percent of 3.67million liters in 2019.
The NBS report also said that Nigeria imported 5.15bn litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), commonly called diesel, 128.11m litres of Household Kerosene (HHK), 1.07bn litres of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK), 45.98m litres of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) and 526.06m litres of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in 2019.
The NBS data did not break down the consumption according to states but since Lagos is the economic capital of Nigeria it easily consumed the bulk of the petrol supplied in the South West region and Abuja, being the seat of power likely accounted for the largest supply in the north central region.
Cumulatively these two regions accounted for 48.25, or almost half of the petrol consumption in 2019. In effect, it would indicate that the Federal government paid subsidy largely for residents of Lagos and Abuja.
Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently said the government was abolishing petrol subsidy because it only benefited the rich.
“In some cases, it is the elite that have two, three or four cars in their houses and the ordinary man or Nigerian does not benefit from it. This is the time to ensure that things get to the ordinary man and not for the elite,” he said.
The bulk of Nigeria’s elite reside in Lagos and Abuja so this data provides factual basis for Kyari’s assertion. Yet, the decision to cancel wasteful subsidies was not the result of pragmatic public policy planning but simply because the government has ran out of cash with oil prices on the floor and mounting debt.
Prior to the 2015 elections, Muhammadu Buhari called subsidy a scam but when he got into power, he quietly continued to pay it even without budgetary provision in his first year in office.
He balked at paying marketers over N700billion they claimed for previous supply in 2017 and they abandoned fuel importation. It became the sole task of the NNPC. Now fuel subsidy has messed up NNPC’s books, ballooning costs and creating doubts over remittances to the government.
Fuel subsidy is one of the biggest fiscal burden on the nation. Between 2015 and 2018, the Federal Government sank N7.9 trillion importing petrol to augment supply from the country’s rickety refineries according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This was more than Nigeria’s entire 2017 budget of N7.2trillion and far higher than spending on defence, education and health.
Petrol consumption has risen from an average of 35million litres per day in 2015 to around 57million daily, though Nigerians have actually become poorer under Buhari’s government, the country less industrialised and car sales have tanked under the weight of a bruising 70 percent duties.
This is why many believe that Nigeria was subsidizing West African consumption because the alternative would be to accuse the NNPC of inflating the figures of petrol imported into the country.