Columns

December 10, 2022

10 weeks to the presidential election

Suddenly, all we have between Nigeria and the next presidential election is just 10 weeks or two and half months. Petrol, its scarcity, importation and pump price were some of 2015’s hot button issues for which APC demonized the PDP.

Yet, today, nation-wide petrol scarcity has worsened, aviation fuel’s scarcity and prohibitive price have all but wiped out the nation’s aviation sector, it is so normal that even in this election season, not even the Peoples Democratic Party’s and Labour Party’s spokespersons are making any song and dance with such.

Yet, APC’s leading lights marched in the streets to dramatize for Nigerians the need to kick out Jonathan and his PDP with their votes because of the woeful effects of their petroleum policies.

In 2015, Nigeria’s inability to refine locally every drop of petrol she consumed, was being showcased as a monumental failure. Today, no drop of the petrol Nigeria consumes is locally refined … yet Nigerians are not being reminded of this failure that is worse than PDP’s in 2015.

In June 2015, as Buhari and APC were still relishing the oomph they received during the baton handover from Jonathan and the PDP, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that the four refineries would commence operation by July 2015, and Nigeria applauded.

NNPC’s monthly petroleum information showed that the nation’s four refineries only processed 1,395,610 million barrels of crude oil to produce 194,669,160 liters of the different petroleum products    in December 2014, or 6,488,972 litres per day, representing 12 percent of Nigeria’s daily needs.

What is the situation today? According to NNPC’s June 2020 report, “Nigeria’s three refineries processed zero crude but cost the nation N10 billion in June 2020 (and) owing largely to on-going rehabilitation works at the refineries”.

Your Columnist wasted time searching the internet for Nigeria’s petrol refining figures for 2022 but found only this NAN report of Mar 2, 2022: “Nigeria targets 1.4mbpd domestic refining capacity in 5 years”.

Yet, if the refineries were said to be under maintenance in 2020 would they not have become productive in 2022? After having wasted almost eight years in power, this present administration and its appointees are now only pointing at their plans for future achievements.

Mr Simbi Wabote, executive secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) said at this year’s Nigeria International Energy Summit, in Abuja that “President Muhammadu Buhari has rolled out the Refining Roadmap which has four areas of focus:

“Rehabilitation of existing four national refineries, co-location of new refineries, construction of greenfield refineries and construction of modular refineries.

“Combined refining capacities of more than 1.4 million barrels per day is expected from these focus areas within the next five years.

“About 400,000bpd is expected from the rehabilitation of NNPC refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna using target performance of not less than 90 percent of nameplate capacity”.

Really? So, it has taken almost all of eight years for Buhari to come up with this grand plan; and with just a few months to the end of his administration. Courtiers and their words! But why blame a courtier

when the PDP and the Labour Party spokespersons have refused to focus on APC’s earth-shaking failures?

A January 18, 2015 Vanguard report showed APC criticizing the PDP administration’s 97 to 87 Naira reduction of petrol pump price as mere tokenism at a time the price of crude oil had crashed by about 60 percent. It quoted Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s statement, criticizing Nigeria for “depending on importation of petroleum products to meet about 90% of its domestic consumption.

It takes a strong willed, determined and transparent leadership to immediately call in the petroleum products contracts for re-negotiation, as this will represent a huge blow on corruption in the sector since clearly ‘commissions’ would have been paid by petroleum product traders on the existing contracts.

It called on the PDP federal government to immediately slash the price of petrol to 70 Naira per litre and the prices of diesel and kerosene to nothing more than 90 Naira per litre each way, and stop stealing from Nigerians who have been pauperized by its bad record of governance since 1999.

Today, what is the petrol pump price? As published by Statista website the “average price of gasoline in Nigeria in 2022 is 195.29 Nigerian naira (NGN) per liter. The North-West recorded the highest prices nationwide, at 198.70 NGN, roughly 0.45 U.S. dollars. APC has been blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine for petrol price escalation, yet, The New York Times at 3:40 AM Thursday, December 8, 2022 reported that “gasoline prices in the U.S. are now lower than they were a year ago, driven down by reduced global demand and tumbling oil prices”.

That charade is really the change APC brought to Nigeria has been established. What is baffling is why the parties which want to take power from APC next year appear to be side-stepping APC’s verifiable failures.