Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State has blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for his failure to completely remove subsidies on electricity and petrol, since 2016, and for allowing the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) to sabotage his government with the continued deduction of petrol subsidy from crude oil revenue and fixing of the pump price of petrol.
El Rufai made this known during a live telecast on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday.
According to him, President Buhari failed to accede to advice and consensus in support of the removal of the petrol subsidy. He noted that President may not remove the subsidy until May 29, 2023, when he is expected to leave office.
The Kaduna State Governor said, “Buhari told us that the removal of the fuel subsidy will hurt the poor masses and insisted that he will not end it. The President took that decision, because he is in charge.
“I am not surprised because the NNPC is the real saboteur. The Corporation sabotaged the removal of fuel subsidy by fixing the new pump price and making it look as if it was President Buhari that fixed the new price.
“Although the President is equally the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the decision on price is not made by him. For instance, the Minister of Agriculture is not the one who fixes the price of Garri in the market.
“These are things that the market dynamics should determine, but that was sabotaged by NNPC. In 2016, we could have handed off the payment of the subsidy completely.
“Nigeria went into economic recession in 2016 because of subsidy, we later transited into Covid-19 lockdown in 2021. Nothing was done about the removal of the subsidy, and in 2022 the war between Russia and Ukraine started which raised the price of crude oil to above $100 per barrel before it later declined to $85 per barrel.
“We failed to remove subsidy during that period and instead of benefiting from the $100 per barrel increase in the price of crude oil, we were paying 3 times what was budgeted on health, infrastructure, and education on petrol subsidy.
“How can we subsidize fuel with N6 trillion in a year, when our national budget on education for state and federal is not up to N2 trillion? How can we have a capital budget of up to a N200 billion on federal roads and continue to spend N2 trillion on fuel subsidy?
“We spent N300 billion per annum to subsidize electricity which we hardly get in our homes. We are subsidizing 50 per cent of the electricity that we consume nationwide without improvement in supply.
“This is the time that we have to make choices as a country and as a people to stop being hypocritical on matters such as these,” the Governor of Kaduna said.
El-Rufai further noted that since the last quarter of 2021 (Q4,2021), the NNPC has not remitted a dime into the federation’s account, because of subsidy deduction. He noted that Nigeria has depended only on import revenue and taxes.
He said “This petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed in 2016. In fact, I had a discussion with President Buhari and showed him why it had to go in 2021 when the subsidy started rising.
“Buhari was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed, till date, those that failed to remove it have not been sacked or jailed.
The Kaduna State Governor noted that there is a form of consensus among all the major Presidential candidates in the 2023 general election, that the petrol subsidy would be removed.
He said, ” The fact that subsidy is not sustainable is the reason why all the Presidential candidates including Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have promised to remove it.
“Already petrol is being sold for N300/litre, N600/litre and above that price in some parts of the country. We are getting to a tipping point, where Nigeria will go bankrupt if we do not find the political will to completely remove it.
“The states are already in distress because of the N6 trillion that we are using to service petrol subsidy. Half of the allocation that we should have gone into the pocket of local, state, and federal governments had failed to be remitted to them because of subsidy.
“That is why all the states are piling up salary arrears, most of the states are struggling to survive, except for a few that are surviving on internally generated revenue.
“The next government must remove petrol subsidy otherwise; the country would collapse like Sri Lankan. The subsidy issue requires a national consensus and conversation,” Governor El-Rufai warned Nigerians.