BY SUNNY CHUBA NWACHUKWU
Sunny Nwachukwu (Loyal Sigmite), PhD, a pure and applied chemist with an MBA in management, is an Onitsha based industrialist, a fellow of ICCON, and vice president, finance, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached on +234 803 318 2105 (text only) or email@example.com
The Nigerian economy is gasping for breath. In the aftermath of the federal government’s planned decision on petroleum subsidy, which it said is based on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), it must be recognised that the present unfavourable economic situation also has a clear historical background; the cause and effect of the flip flops that resulted in the confusion and the debate over doing away with the cancerous policy called fuel subsidy.
Understandably, this is a well known outcome of self-inflicted financial failure, intentionally and purposefully perpetrated by cartels, best qualified to be addressed as ‘economic saboteurs’, formidably lined up against the state over a long period.
The impact has become so complex with the hydra-headed monster petroleum subsidy regime foisted in the last three decades on the nation’s economy, which has badly eaten deep into the nation’s treasury through corrupt practises, armed with a conduit for syphoning and diverting the public funds; and the best option out of this economic mess seems like a ‘mission impossible’, a jigsaw puzzle for the federal government to handle. This is especially with regard to a wrongly timed ‘deregulation’ that must be delicately handled with palliative for the majority of the citizenry grouped under the poverty class. Yet, a policy direction is required to pull the nation out of its deplorable, deep, imminent economic recession, political turmoil and social chaos frontally staring at the entire nation.
The federal government’s sensitivity (at least, for peace to reign at this critical time), by promptly suspending the proposed plan on subsidy removal, has been taken to avert the imminent nationwide strike by labour, led by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), is commendable; although its eighteen months as proposed to the national assembly still leaves this economic parasite, being massaged to favour the alleged economic saboteurs, who feed fat on the notorious and prodigal oil policy, against the well being of the national economy and the Nigerian state!
How does one justify the additional request of N3 trillion by the NNPC for an increase in the 2022 budget appropriation, for this same policy, in the midst of the nation’s economic and financial distress?
The main reason why a few proponents of the subsidy’s instant and permanent extinction, are still not satisfied with the government’s proposed extra lifeline of eighteen months as extended, is because the economy can only start getting better once the impact of the national economic efficiency is achieved and instantly felt.
This will be immediate with the refined products ceasing to come in from outside the shores of Nigeria. The workings or the logic presently being confused and debated, that is, the effect and how the free flow, natural mechanism of the open market forces through competitive pricing for the locally refined products, can be economically permuted very correctly. And this will be realised through the gigantic Dangote Refinery’s daily capacity of 650,000 barrels of crude, which comes on stream this year, and from the other 22 already approved and certified refining facilities in the country, with a cumulative sum of about 440,000 bpd capacity. While we await the four government owned moribund refineries currently being rehabilitated, with a total of 445,000 bpd capacity, expected to be mainstreamed into the products supply grid by 2023.
This productivity status from the oil industry, will not only improve the macroeconomic indices by impacting positively on the current weak GDP formula elements and positive values, through a complete elimination of the products’ import element in the formula (which always has a negative sign) among the other components, like consumer expenditures, investment and government expenditures. It is at this stage that the nation’s economy will receive an appreciable fresh breath! Who doesn’t wish for good things to happen? We presently cry wolves because we constantly desire to see an improved national economy for the country.
One amusing thing to particularly watch out for, is the fate of the alleged overpadded daily domestic consumption or demand for PMS in the Nigerian economy because, from the locally refined products, Nigerians would be able to see clearly, and “count their teeth with their tongues” whether it is 38.2 million litres or 70 million litres, or 103 million litres of PMS that is utilised daily. The truth definitely shall be made manifest because, the natural phenomenon has proven a fact that, “blatant lies have expiration dates!”
Every patriotic citizen in the land aspires to see an improved national economy for the general good of all concerned. This, of course, is still very achievable if the official corruption could be tamed and done away with.
Presently, all that the drivers of this economy should be targeting is how to make the economy to be relevant in the schemes of the global energy transition, with its energy mix favourable to the nation’s available natural resources, especially in the area of getting the gas resources (which is still fossil fuel, but a cleaner energy) to be in high demand globally, without much discrimination in the light of the global war against climate change.
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