By Anthonia Onwuka
Government has over the years insisted that the subsidy it pays on petroleum products are too much for it to bear and that almost all the funds go into private pockets at the end of the day. Therefore, government’s position is that it would be better if it removes the subsidy so that the few fat cats reaping the country off would no longer do so. Below is a compilation of the way governments over the years have removed what it claimed to be subsidies on petroleum products.
1978, 15kobo per litre
1990, 60kobo per litre
1992, 70kobo per litre
1993, N3.25kobo and N11 per litre
And from 1994 to 1998 the official pump price hovered around N11.0k per liter – these happened during the military era. However, the people’s expectation that their living conditions would improve with the coming of “democracy” in mid-1999 met with nothing but disappointment!
Instead of “democracy” to improve their lives, things became tougher as the price of a litre of fuel was pushed from N11 per litre to N20 and up again to N22.0k in 2000.
The anomalies in the nation’s economic policymaking process have always made life unbearable in the society. As if the government was not happy that the people were still breathing, it increased the price again to N26 in 2001 from where it was increased in 2003 to N40, with the usual deceptive promises that the subsidy that has been removed would better the lives of Nigerians.
Just before President Olusegun Obasanno left office, he jerked up the price of petrol to, first, N65 per litre and again over N100 per litre.
When late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came in, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, resisted the increase and force Yar’Adua to revert to the N65 per litre for petrol.
Today, Nigerians are being told that they may have to pay between N120 and N150 per litre of petrol – all in the name of removal of subsidy on petrol.
Mind you, during General Sani Abacha’s maximum dictatorship, the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, was set up to warehouse subsidy funds for special interventionist engagements. It did. Today, the concern of Nigerians is mainly what would happen to the funds since government has not even been able to prosecute those it claims are stealing the subsidy funds.