BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
ABUJA—FORMER Chairman, Senate Committee on Services, Senator Emmanuel Anosike, has said that any attempt by the Federal Government to remove oil subsidy in the country would be dangerous, as it will cause untold hardship for the masses.
The former senator, who represented Anambra North senatorial district, stated this in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, the problem with the oil sector is lack of enabling legislation to regulate the activities in the sector.
He noted that it was the common person that would suffer the harsh effect of the removal of subsidy as cost of living would go high, thereby compounding the present economic situation in the country.
Senator Anosike said: “It is a very dangerous approach (removal of subsidy). Those people that are canvassing for the removal of oil subsidy do not feel the pulse of the common man. How much does a fresh graduate earn?
“Most of them cannot afford a house in the heart of Abuja, so they to go satellite towns or outside Abuja for accommodation, where he spends about N400 daily coming to work. At the end of the month, he will not be going home with the sum of N10,000 out of his salary.
“Because your fuel is being paid for, you say subsidy should be removed. We know there are loopholes in the issue of subsidy but there is policy that is 100 per cent perfect. We have to consider the feelings of the common people when it is removed.
“Also, this is the first time in Nigeria we are having a Petroleum Minister that has played the kind of role Diezani Madueke has played.
At a point in this country, you must be involved in oil bunkering to be a big or a wealthy man but she has managed to put a structure that even though crude is still being stolen, it is at a minimal level. This is irrespective of the pressure has is going through.
“When I mean subsidy, I mean in all petroleum products. Our major problem has to do with regulation. We should deal with regulation first. If we monitor kerosene distribution to ensure that it gets to the common man at a subsidized rate, there will be no problem.”
He noted that there had been the question of how to make the nation’s refineries functional in the past 15 years, stressing that one of the main problems facing the sector was corruption.
“We have been asking this question for the past 15 years. It also has to do with regulation. How many people have gone to prison for stealing government money?
“Somebody will steal money and when he gets to court, he would be granted bail. Why can’t another person who has the opportunity steal?
“I was surprised the other time when Honourable members of the House of Representatives were talking about probing the Minister over course of maintaining private Jet. For a typical businessman, you must spend money to make profit.
“If you are Petroleum Minister and you have about seven appointments at different places in a day, there is no grammar, there must be a way for you to meet up with the appointments. As a Minister, if she is traveling and she sees her friend at the airport, there is no problem inviting him or her to join her in the private jet.
“That is the benefit knowing and if that is all the problem about using the private jet and all that, to me it is not an issue. There must be a political issue behind it,” he said.