President Muhammadu Buhari has said that it is difficult to remove fuel subsidy without an alternative solution because such action would be resisted by Nigerians.
He said this on Thursday during an interview on Arise TV.
The President said while his administration closed the borders to check smuggling, some Nigerians still found a way to take out petroleum products through jerry cans and other illegal routes.
Faced with this challenge, Buhari said he has directed the Nigerian Customs Service to step up surveillance at the nation’s borders.
The President further explained that with Nigeria being an oil producing country, any attempt to increase the price of petrol in line with current economic realities will be greeted by stiff opposition from Nigerians.
He said, “These are very difficult questions, Nigerians feel that they are producing oil and so it can’t be too expensive. Nigeria petrol is being sold from here to Ghana, its a confirmation that people take it (out of the country).
“We close the boarders, they put jerry-can there, and they rode machines (motorcycles) through the bush. Nigerians feel they produce their oil and they would like to push you out of wherever you are, even if its Presidential villa they will push you out.
“They will say this is their oil. So what we want is to try to get the cooperation of Customs, Immigration, so that it cannot be taken in substantial amount.”
The non-performance of the nation’s refineries is one of the major reasons for the importation of petroleum products. Since Nigeria does not have control of the international price of crude oil, the government had been forced to pay huge amount to subsidize petrol.
Within a period of 13 years covering January 2006 and December 2019, the Federal Government spent a whopping sum of N10.413trn to subsidize the price of Premium Motor Spirit for Nigerians according to government records.
Within the 13 year period, the N10.413trn burden of subsidy payment for PMS translates into a yearly average payment of about N743.8bn.
Nigeria’s spending on oil subsidy is more than four times what the country spends on building schools and health centres in a country of over 200 million people.
The country has the world’s 10th largest crude reserves, yet spends at least N743.8bn on fuel subsidy annually.