By Bashir Adefaka
As knocks and kudos continue to greet the President Goodluck Jonathan’s planned removal of fuel subsidy, it has been suggested that the best thing the President can do to get out of the controversial issue is for him to take the pains to revisit the Major General Abisoye Panel’s report on NNPC in 1995, which was further reviewed the same year by a Presidential Review Committee.
Former Minister of Communications and Chairman, Presidential Review Committee for the General Abisoye Panel’s report, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, made this submission in Lagos on Wednesday.
The General, also a former GOC, Third Division, Jos and member of the Provisional Ruling Council during General Sani Abacha regime, told Saturday Vanguard that since the best way for Nigeria to move forward was for “all of us to rally round the President to succeed in his programmes, my candid advice for him is to revisit the Abisoye Panel’s report on NNPC, which contains all the answers to these fuel subsidy challenges,” he said.
The General Abisoye Panel’s report identified some avoidable areas of wastages from which, if the report had been implemented, could save several billions of naira for the country. Those wastages, investigation further posited, constituted the bulk of the subsidy that government bears in making petroleum products available to Nigerian market. The way to avoid them, the Abisoye report stated, was for the government to remove its hands from the listed wastages, which many experts said was not going to be easy except the Bayelsa State-born President seriously made up his mind to do so.
Baffled by what has become the dilemma of the sitting administration over the matter, General Tajudeen Olanrewaju said what President Jonathan needed to do was simple: “Unbundle the NNPC by re-organizing, restructuring, commercializing and properly capitalizing it to take on the challenges of commercial role,” he said.
“The documents are there. The issue is with the NNPC and there is no way you can play down the issue of re-structuring the NNPC when you talk of subsidy. As long as the NNPC remains as presently constituted, you cannot run away from subsidy. If you go back to the panel reports, you will discover that even if you stop subsidy now it will continue to come up. There must be a proper separation of NNPC from the apron of the Ministry of Petroleum for government to get to anywhere over this matter,” he said.
He added that as far back as February, 1995, the review committee that he headed in reviewing the Abisoye Panel report on NNPC had proffered solutions to the problems of subsidy and that the earlier the government went back to those documents the better. He was speaking on the heels that functionality of the nation’s four refineries would not stop subsidy except that the parasitic development was dealt with holistically.