By Dike Onwuamaeze
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has called for the scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as well as the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries and the removal of fuel subsidy by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
In a paper he delivered on ‘Nigeria and the Oil Fortune’ at The 2015 Wole Soyinka Centre Annual Media Lecture on Monday, July 13, El-Rufai accused the NNPC of constituting itself into a parallel government and called for the establishment of a brand new company in its place that would raise capital from the capital market and international finance markets for its operations. “The long and short of the situation of our oil industry is best exemplified by the parallel government called the NNPC. In 2012, it sold N2.77 trillion worth of ‘domestic’ crude oil but paid only N1.66 trillion to the Federation Account.
“In 2013, it earned N2.66 trillion but paid N1.56 trillion to FAAC; in 2014, N2.64 trillion but remitted N1.44 trillion, while between January and May 2015, it earned N733.36 billion and remitted only N473.2 billion.
“That means that the NNPC only remitted about 58 per cent of the monies earned between 2012 and the first half of 2015. A company with the audacity to retain 42 per cent of a country’s money has become a veritable parallel republic.
“If we do not kill NNPC, NNPC will kill Nigeria. Any organization that takes 50 per cent of federation revenue for itself and gives you the change has no right to exist. It is evil, it must die, it is just the manner of the death that we must talk about,”el-Rufai said.
According to him, “the corruption and nonchallance that have hobbled the NNPC are symptoms that its best days are over.”
He also said that there is no benefit to the nation from petrol subsidy. “About N971 billion was budgeted for subsidy payments in 2014 alone (more than twice that was eventually paid). You all recall how trillions of Naira were paid out as oil subsidy in 2011, when only N254 billion was appropriated. No one has been successfully prosecuted for this scam. Why is it that in this most crucial of sectors, it has been possible for briefcase companies to walk away with big assets, billion naira subsidy payments? I daresay that the oil subsidy regime has neither grown our people nor guaranteed stability of refined product supplies. What subsidy has achieved is create a huge hole in the budget and a new array of overnight billionaires. The downstream oil business in Nigeria has morphed into one optimised for the pursuit of subsidy payments,” El-Rufai said.