• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
businessday logo


PDP Reps demand revamping of refineries before fuel subsidy removal


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives has demanded that the four Refineries (PH I & II, Warri and Kaduna) be revamped to function optimally before any subsidy removal is considered after proper consultations with all stakeholders, including the National Assembly that holds the peoples mandate by the President Muhamamdu Buhari administration.

The opposition lawmakers called on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency reverse pump price of fuel and electricity tariff to meet the yearnings of Nigerians and realities of the moment.

They also asked the Federal Government to stay the further implementation of 7.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) increase to allow Nigerians recover from the effects of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The PDP Caucus chaired by its Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) made these demands in resolutions reached at its 18th virtual meeting, where it reviewed issues of national interest particularly, the recent cost increases in pump price of fuel; electricity stamp duties and telecommunication charges.

In the resolutions signed by the Chairman, Chinda and made available to journalists on Sunday, the Federal Government is advised to focus on working out modalities to ameliorate the pains and sufferings of an already hardworking, but traumatized people of Nigeria.

The caucus noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted great hardship globally and have seen most economies fluttering, hence most if not all responsive governments have devised innovative people-oriented interventions and opening new frontiers to reducing tax burdens on their citizens to stimulate their economies and cushion the unfortunate effect of the pandemic.

It regretted that the Nigerian Federal Government led by President Buhari has however, found this inauspicious time to implement what can only be described as strangle-hold economic policies on the lives of perceived helpless Nigerian citizens.

The opposition lawmakers said: “More disturbing is the fact that the review in electricity tariffs and fuel prices is not Commensurate with an increase in salary or income of the people.

“On the issue of increase in pump price, it sad that the increase inflicted on Nigerians will be the third hike since the advent of this administration.

“From an inherited pump price of N85 per litre, they have systematically increased it to an exorbitant, strangulating cost of N162 per litre. All these have been achieved without consultation or engagement with the Nigerian people, at whose pleasure he serves”.

The PDP Caucus recalled that in 2015 when the present administration took over the mantle of leadership, cost of crude was N93.17 to 48.66 USD; pump price of fuel in Nigeria was N85 per litre and about N500 Billion was said to be paid as subsidy annually”

“In 2020, crude sells for 39.68USD the pump price of fuel is N162. Ordinarily, lower cost of crude should entail lower cost of fuel; At every increase, Nigerians are told that subsidy payment has been removed and that price of fuel will be determined by market forces.”

“Paradoxically, in 2020 the government budgeted 450B for subsidy, whilst PPRA gave a realistic estimate of 750.81B to be spent by NNPC as subsidy in 2020, higher than N500 Billion even with almost 95% increase in pump price.”

“Furthermore, President Buhari also promised to revive and reactivate our minimally performing refineries to optimum capacity and stabilise oil price. This is a promise far taller than his imagined economic prowess. The state-owned refineries are operating at a ridiculous fraction of their capacities. Nigeria (an oil producing country) continues to import more than 90% of her finished products”, the Federal legislators said.

The Caucus expressed worry that the increases are coming at such a time when the masses are also faced with a hike in the prices of food, especially the most basic staple food items such as rice, garri and yam while government continues to live in self-denial claiming that there is a reduction in the cost of food items.

It said the government rather than alleviate the suffering of citizens, chose to gift Nigerians a pre-October 1 gift with an increase in the prices of fuel, electricity tariff and full implementation of 7.5% VAT.

On the issue of insecurity, the Caucus reminded the president of his promises when he said that ‘I will ensure that under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil’.

“Six years after President Buhari took over the leadership of this country, insecurity is at an all-time high, with insurgent activities, banditry and herdsmen attacks which was localised in the North-East and kidnapping in the South-South, have all today assumed a national dimension and prevalent in every part of the country. Over half of the Local Government Areas in Bornu is under the effective control of insurgents.”

“As if in keeping with this government’s determination to increase everything; by a recent report by Global Terrorism Index (GTI), Nigeria ranks the third in the overall global list of most terrorised countries in the world and is the most terrorised country in Africa, yet we are told that terrorism has be technically defeated.”

While lamenting on the dwindling economy, the Caucus also recalled that: “In 2015, President Buhari promised to deliver an annual economic growth of 10% and that the naira will exchange for one naira to a dollar. Ironically, one year under his watch, the country slipped into deep recession that lasted for more than a year, the second recession ever experienced by Nigeria.

“Coincidentally both were under President Buhari’s leadership as Military and civilian President, we are gradually dovetailing into the third recession still under his watch. The naira that was exchanging at 160 to a dollar in 2015 went all time low to 470 to a dollar today”.