…Demands local production of cheap fuel as Buhari promised in 2015 campaigns
By Chimezie Godfrey
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has condemned the expensive cost of fuel and gas, and demanded that pending when the nation’s four refineries would begin local production, President Muhammadu Buhari must halt any plan to remove fuel subsidy.
In a statement today, OPC President, Otunba Wasiu Afolabi (popularly called “Askari”), warned that scrapping fuel subsidy without locally-produced fuel would further escalate inflation, endanger industries and increase the hardship Nigerians already suffered.
OPC also demanded that the government must equally tame the galloping prices of cooking gas, domestic kerosine and aviation fuel.
Afolabi said: “Many households and families are suffering due to the high cost of cooking gas and domestic kerosine. They want the government to alleviate their sufferings by ensuring that the price of gas, for example, returns to N256/kg at most, instead of the current astronomical price of N850/kg.”
Lamenting that the price of diesel (AGO) has also skyrocketed from N190 to N810, Afolabi said this had a negative effect on industries and transportation with attendant high cost of goods and services.
According to the OPC President, lower fuel will reduce inflation, restore the health of the devalued Naira and increase the purchasing power of citizens, with the overall boosting of the economy.
Challenging the government to invest in local production of fuel instead of importation, Afolabi said President Muhammadu Buhari must see to the revamping of the country’s four refineries and encourage the abundant establishment of functional modular refineries.
The OPC President said: “What is happening today was not what General Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians when he was campaigning in 2014. His promise to change the fuel situation by revamping the four refineries was attractive to Nigerians who were dissatisfied with the high cost of imported fuel. Nigerians voted for change. Now the situation is even worse.
“How do you explain that Buhari called fuel subsidy of N306.92 billion a scam in 2015, but under him fuel subsidy rose to N1.43 trillion in 2021 and N4 trillion in 2022?
“By running the economy on imported fuel these past seven years, the Buhari government has sacrificed Nigerians to the unchained greediness of an evil cabal that has deliberately paralysed local refining. Clearly, no country will do well under such a system. Time has come to say, ‘Enough is Enough.’
“President Buhari, as the Minister of Petroleum, lacks any excuse to import petroleum products at all. Nigeria is an oil-producing country. Nigerians are blessed with petroleum resources and they deserve to enjoy the benefits of this God-given gift.”
Recalling that when Buhari took over in 2015, petrol sold for N87 at the fuel pump, Afolabi said today the price has increased to N190.
OPC equally faulted the high price of aviation fuel, saying the situation had increased the cost of flight tickets and made travelling by air expensive, unattractive and nightmarish.
Afolabi said: “It is unreasonable that just a few months back aviation fuel sold for N190 and today it has increased to N880. Yet the government allows the situation to continue, without doing anything to bring this alarming situation under control. This is unacceptable.”
According to the organisation, many OPEC countries were currently reaping the gains of the Ukraine-Russian war, with the world abandoning Russian oil and gas to seek alternatives; yet Nigeria, blessed with a vast reservoir of oil and gas, remained impoverished in the midst of this vast opportunity.