March 21, 2024

Fuel subsidy removal: One billion litres of Nigeria’s petrol smuggled – Minister

Fuel subsidy removal: One billion litres of Nigeria’s petrol smuggled – Minister

… vows not to pay ransom to rescue schoolchildren, others in captivity

… says killing of 16 soldiers, attack on Nigeria’s sovereignty

By Bashir Bello, Kano

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammad Idris, said one billion litres of Nigeria’s petrol, representing 53 per cent were smuggled out through the nation’s porous borders to benefit those not paying tax to the country.

The Minister, who disclosed this during an Iftar (Breaking of Fast) with some media executives and practitioners in Kano, said the country recorded a drop in the domestic consumption of fuel by 53 per cent after the removal of fuel subsidy.

He said the removal of the fuel subsidy was necessary because those not paying tax were benefiting from the subsidy more than Nigerians.

According to him, “the domestic consumption of petrol has gone down by about 53%, meaning that over

a billion litres of fuel that we used to consume during pre-subsidy removal is now gone. And the question you will ask yourself is: Where has this fuel been going?

“How suddenly is it that domestic consumption has gone down by 53 per cent? It means that this petrol was finding its way out of our porous borders for the benefit of those who are not paying tax to this country.

“It doesn’t make sense to continue to subsidise somebody else’s home when your roof is leaking, your window is broken, and your child has not gone to school. You have to subsidise yourself before you subsidise somebody else. The benefit of that is that, already, consumption has gone down by over 1 billion litres, representing about 53 per cent. Why is that so?” he said.

On the ailing refineries in the country, the Minister said the Port Harcourt refinery would begin production next week and others would follow suit in no distant time to stop importation of fuel into the country.

The minister also said the government had deactivated over 6,000 illegal refineries, with over 4,000 of the illegal pipelines disconnected.

On the abduction of schoolchildren and others, the minister vowed that no ransom would be paid to rescue persons from kidnappers’ den.

“The government is saddened by that development. The message of Mr. President to the Armed Forces and security agencies is that all children and anybody are been brought back to their families or houses very soon. And you have heard from Mr. President that, in the process, the issue of ransom will not be condoned. He has reiterated that we will bring these children back home by God’s grace without paying a ransom.

“I want you to have faith in our security agencies in doing that. All of them are working. They are Nigerians; we all saw what happened in Delta. Who is happy that somebody who has sworn an allegiance to keep this together will just wake up and attempt to kill that person? Any attempt at our armed forces is also an attempt at the sovereignty of this country.

“Mr. President has said clearly in his statement that it is unacceptable and all the perpetrators will be brought to book and punished without harming other community members.

“In February 2024, our armed forces neutralised 974 terrorists, apprehended 621 suspects, rescued 466 hostages, and recovered over 1,500 weapons.

“I think we need to amplify that. And you need to know that these terrorists are also fighting psychological warfare against all of us. So, I urge you, as practitioners, not to celebrate these criminal elements with your reportage. We need to deny them their capacity to do propaganda and inflict psychological wounds on all of us as Nigerians. It is our collective duty to deny terrorists that possibility,” the Minister, Muhammad Idris, however, stated.