Opinion: What subsidy?
by Kanife, Ejike Alphonsus
While buying the much I could, I joked some with the attendant concerning the prices of petroleum products and asked him if they have removed the subsidy from PMS too. His reply was apt and quite punchy: “Subsidy oshi ewo ni yen?”
A litre of black market fuel in my area costs between 150 and 180 naira so I reckoned if I took the time and the pain to visit a filling station I would get it cheaper. So wielding my jerry can, I blew a bike (thank God they didn’t ban those ones in my area) to the closest filling station where my heart jumped with glee because the signboard still read 97/litre. Kpata-kpata (Eventually) it would be 100 naira or 110. With that on my mind I bounced into the filling station like I wanted to buy a whole tanker of fuel. The attendant quickly told me, “one-forty ni o.” What? So why didn’t I spare myself less stress and time and just search out a 150 naira-selling black marketer instead of taking bike and yet buying at 140? Wouldn’t I be spending more now?
While buying the much I could, I joked some with the attendant concerning the prices of petroleum products and asked him if they have removed the subsidy from PMS too. His reply was apt and quite punchy: “Subsidy oshi ewo ni yen?” (What subsidy?)
Well, I gave his reply a big thought and concluded that we indeed needed to ask the Federal Government that has been ranting about the need for total removal of fuel subsidy that same question, which useless subsidy are we even talking about? With prices ranging from 120 to 150/litre in many filling stations and 150 to 200/litre in black markets, one can’t help but ask which subsidy they want to remove that hasn’t already been removed or that Nigerians haven’t been suffering from. Subsidy is supposed to cut down the price of a commodity or service, so if we are still enjoying the said subsidy yet we don’t even see the fuel and even when we do, it comes at a pocket-tearing price, then we should ask the questions; where is the subsidy? What is the subsidy doing? Is it supposed to reduce or increase the price of PMS? If it is supposed to reduce it as its name suggests, why then are we still paying so much for it? If with the said subsidy still in place and the price of fuel still sky-rocketing, yet we still buy the product for so much, when the subsidy gets totally removed and the price of the commodity reaches God-knows-how-high, how does the government really expect the average Nigerian to buy and use fuel?
Yet we still need to know, whatever happened to the funds accrued from the partial removal in January of subsidy? What is the SURE-P doing? Where are the said alternatives that were supposed to cushion the effects of the partial (and total) removal? The cost of transportation is on the rise, where are the diesel-powered buses and what-nots? Where are the rail lines and trains? The waters have receded and water level is going down. Consequently, power supply has reduced drastically and the season of darkness (which happens to be the dry season when power is most needed) is upon us again. With fuel getting scarcer and costlier by the day and the average man finding it hard to fuel his I-pass-my-neighbour, where is the 20 hour electricity promised us before the removal? Where are the good roads and hospitals and schools they promised to build with the partial subsidy funds?
Again, if the government isn’t fooling us and if Nigerians are really still enjoying the subsidy which should leave PMS price at 97 naira, where are the taskforce that are supposed to make sure filling stations sell at the recommended PPPRA price? Why are filling stations hoisting 97/litre on their sign boards while selling at over-bloated prices? What is happening with the said oil thieves whom have been caught? I thought the more oil thieves we caught, the more funds will be retrieved and made available to real importers and more fuel into the system. How come we’re catching more oil thieves yet suffering worse? What is happening to the urgent need to build one or more world class, state-of-the-art refinery which a country as big and as blessed as Nigeria so rightly deserve?
This whole charade reeks of a plot by the FG and their thieving friends to break Nigerians and force us to yield to their ungodly and inhuman plan of removing a subsidy most analysts agree doesn’t exist in the first place. But no matter what the president and his cohorts do, they will never justify any removal of fuel subsidy nor the hike in pump prices and the attendant sufferings it had subjected the masses to. The president vowed to catch oil thieves and make them return all they stole but the reverse has become the case as so-called oil marketers have somehow turned the table on the president and the country at large, insisting instead, and strongly too that it was the country that was in their debt and demanding that the government pay all they owe. Isn’t that a tragedy? So tragic that the president even confessed that the oil people are effectively holding the country to ransom, so who be the police and who be the thief?
This is definitely a plot, deliberately planned, meticulously executed and tactically sustained to gradually and systematically hike the price of PMS, so that the masses will subliminally adapt to the changing trend without attributing it to subsidy removal. If it is not, why would the president who has always been a die-hard advocate for subsidy removal, within days of his most recent advocacy that subsidy must go for the country to survive (November 15 when he received the report of the graduating participants of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Jos) had gone ahead to announce during his infamous media chat that subsidy remains in 2013 and that provisions have been made for it in the 2013 budget? I don’t know about you, but I think something stinks fishy in all that hot and cold doublespeak. Sadly, true to the Nigerian characteristic to adapt well to demeaning and otherwise unacceptable standards, we are already bearing with the president, withstanding long queues under the sun and in the rain only to be extorted of our hard-earned cash in the name of purchasing a supposedly subsidized product.
I ask again, subsidy oshi ewo ni yen?
Kanife, Ejike Alphonsus is a Lagos based creative writer, trained journalist and partner at www.Teksmobile.com. He tweets from @AktivIngredient
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.