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$35bn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in Five Years – Ex-NNPC Director

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Falling Oil Prices Illustration

Nigeria spent an estimated $35bn as subsidy on petroleum products out of the $300bn earned from crude oil from 2010 and 2014, a former Acting Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Tim Okon, has said.

This is coming as experts have urged the Federal Government to discontinue its overdependence on oil revenue, noting that it should seriously work towards diversifying the economy away from oil.

Okon and some professors, as well as other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, spoke during the 6th Emmanuel Egbogah Legacy Lecture Series with the theme, ‘Managing Petroleum Revenue under Volatile Price Dynamics’, organised by the Emerald Energy Institute, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday.

While delivering the keynote address, Okon, who is the chief executive officer, International Institute of Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy, and a special adviser on fiscal strategy at the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, stated that the subsidy programme was actually designed for the poor but it benefitted a few rich persons massively.

He said, “In the period when Nigeria earned close to $300bn as revenue from oil, from 2010 to 2014, we were spending approximately $7bn annually on subsidy. Worse than this was that in spite of the huge revenue inflows, we were also borrowing.”

He also decried the magnitude of borrowing by the Federal Government and stressed that Nigeria might be heading towards a situation in which it would sustain its operations mostly on public debts if care is not taken.

“If we continue to borrow, we will be returning to the point where we may seek debt forgiveness. This is why we are concerned about this development,” Okon said.

The ex-NNPC director lauded the halt in the subsidy regime and stated that the billions of dollars spent on subsidising petrol across the country would have been used to fix all the country’s refineries as well as build the Mambilla Power Plant, which has the capacity of generating about 3,000 megawatts of electricity.

He said, “Of course, spending money on consumables versus having productive capacity is another issue. At one point in time, the subsidy programme was worth $7bn a year. This, however, was despite the fact that the total cost of getting our refineries fixed was about $3bn. But the $7bn was spent through the exhaust fumes of our vehicles.”

Okon explained that Nigeria had been in the oil business for several decades and had seen how crude prices fluctuated over the years, adding that it was worrisome that the current fall in crude prices had taken a huge toll on the Nigerian economy.

He said, “Volatility is not new; commodity price changes are not new and, therefore, Nigeria ought to, having being an oil producer for quite some time, have an understanding of this cycle. But the question is, why is it now difficult?”

He frowned on the way and manner in which government’s revenue was managed, noting that efficient planning tools abound that could help in the management of proceeds from oil, particularly in a volatile market.

The ex-NNPC official stated that there was the need to deal with the revenue governance framework, adding that one way was the ability to create adequate buffers.

He said, “Our failure to create enough buffers has resulted in the situation that we have found ourselves. The second approach for most countries who are oil producers is that when the prices are high, you have to save and that is the purpose of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Nigeria’s SWF, the last time I checked, was about $1.2bn, while that of Saudi Arabia, when I last checked it up, had come down from $783bn to about $600bn.”

He said Nigeria’s SWF had been eroded due to political interferences over the years, as against what was obtainable in 2007/2008 when the fund was used to support the economy during the fall in global crude oil prices at that period.

Proffering solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the country, particularly in its oil and gas sector, Okon said it was high time Nigeria diversified its revenue-generating sources.

According to him, the country should also undertake resource diversification and the burden on the oil and gas industry should be reduced since it contributes only about 15 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

#EndSARS Protesters Kill as Security Operatives Open Fire at Lekki Toll Gate

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Security Operatives Open Fire on #EndSARS Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate

Nigerian security operatives deployed to Lekki Toll Gate following the announcement of a 24-hour curfew by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

According to numerous accounts of protesters, the army started shooting even before the curfew announced to commence by 9 pm on Tuesday.

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Government

Lagos Imposes 24 Hour Curfew as #EndSARS Protest Turns Violent

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Sanwo-Olu Imposes 24 Hour Curfew in Lagos as Hoodlums Hijacked #EndSARS Protests

The Executive Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, imposed a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state as peaceful #EndSARS protest turned violence amid the destruction of properties and lives.

In a statement released by the governor through his official Twitter account @jidesanwoolu, the governor said “I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society.

“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our state. As a government that is alive to its responsibility and has shown a commitment to the movement #ENDSARS, we will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.”

“I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State as from 4pm today, 20th October,2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders must be found on the streets.”

This was after reports of numerous attacks and destruction of properties by certain elements that the Nigerian youths claimed were sponsored by politicians to disrupt their agitation and invalidate the entire protest.

On Monday, prisoners were freed in Benin, Edo State by unknown individuals either sponsored by politicians or part of the protesters that gone rogue or with different agenda.

In Abuja, a group of thugs (sponsored or not) burnt several vehicles claimed to be parked by peaceful protesters while in Lagos, the story is not different as unscrupulous elements have been stealing and attacking people.

With a 24-hour curfew now in place in Lagos and Edo States, the youths agitating may be forced to eventually meet with the government to discuss their demands and implementation methodology.

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Buhari Bows to Pressure, Overhauls Murderous Police Unit, SARS

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FG, NPF Dissolve SARS Amid Nationwide Protests

President Muhammadu Buhari has finally bowed to pressure to disband the murderous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

In a statement released on Sunday, Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, said the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit had been abolished “with immediate effect”. He, however, said SARS officers would be redeployed to other police units, formations and commands that the Nigerian people are saying also needs reform.

 

This was after President Buhari had said he met with the Inspector General of Police on Saturday to discuss reform of the UNIT against a complete overhaul being pushed by millions of harassed, dehumanised and disrespected Nigerian youths.

The statement further aggravated Nigerian youths, who encouraged Nigerians abroad to stage protests across the nation’s embassies in a move to draw international media and organisations to the plight of youths in Africa’s largest economy. Sensing chaos amid expected economic recession in the third quarter, President Buhari and the Nigeria Police Force quickly dissolved the murderous anti-robbery squad to force decorum and calm millions of angry Nigerian youths.

Nigerian youths, both celebrities, influencers and regular people, have used their social media backed with action to compel the Nigerian government, known for blatant disrespect, disregard and the use of counter-protests to suppress and discredit dissenting voice, to finally put to an end a police unit that has killed several youths for owning an iPhone, having a laptop, driving a car or even looking good.

This is a win for the Nigerian youths and sent a strong message to the leaders that youths will no longer tolerate their excesses and henceforth would be demanding accountability, transparency and the right implementation of the rule of law regardless of class, status or position.

To the youths, it validated what the majority have been clamouring for, UNITY that transcends tribes and religions. If Nigerian youths stick together and continue to demand change in one voice with civil disobedience, we will eventually have a Nigeria we all can be proud of.

Congratulations to US!.

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