Subsidy gulped N8.94tn in ten years, as petrol scarcity looms over tanker drivers strike

DATA from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) revealed that over a 10-year period, the Federal Government consistently spent N8.94 trillion in subsidising Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) also called petrol.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Federal Government had spent N257.36 billion, N271.51 billion, N630.57 billion, N469.31 billion and N667.08 billion, according to records released by the PPPRA.

Also from 2011 to 2015, the government paid N2.104 trillion, N1.354tn, N1.315tn, N1.217tn and N653.51 billion respectively on petrol subsidy.

The PPPRA had in March this year commenced the deregulation of the downstream oil sector in a bid to stop the continued payment on petrol subsidy by setting a market-based pricing regime for petrol in accordance with the market realities.

Petrol prices in Nigeria have increased for three months consecutively, rising slightly from N121  per litre in June to N143 in July, N150 in August, and N162 in September.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which was the sole importer of petrol into the country had been recording under-recoveries as a result of its subsidy spending on petrol.

In another development, the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) on Tuesday ordered tanker drivers across the country to halt operations to protest the Federal Government’s ban on petroleum trucks above 45,000 litres from plying Nigerian roads.

NARTO is the umbrella organisation of all commercial vehicles owners in Nigeria engaged in the haulage of petroleum products, general cargoes, and movement of goods and passengers within the country and the West-African sub-region.

Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, Yusuf Othman, NARTO’s National President, said members of the association would have to park their trucks on Tuesday and Wednesday as a warning to government against the abrupt ban.

“NARTO received with grave shock the recent government decision to place an immediate ban on all petroleum trucks above 45,000 litres capacity from plying Nigeria roads,” he said.

Othman said the sudden ban was insensitive and unappreciative of the efforts of NARTO members in the distribution and supply chain of petroleum products across the country.

He said none of the major transport companies across the country could continue any form of operations with the policy within the short timeframe, adding that if the ban was not lifted, the association would begin a full-blown industrial action.

“In view of the above, we are therefore constrained to allow the decision of all our members to park their trucks as from tomorrow, 22nd to 23rd September 2020, to prevail as a warning,” he said.



    “And furthermore, issue 10-day ultimatum with effect from 24th September 2020, for a full-blown withdrawal of service. If such scenarios occur, we earnestly plead with those who will lose employment, income and the general public that will be negatively affected by this avoidable situation.”

    The association argued that it was distressing and discouraging for the government to impose the new policy abruptly without giving the operators time to gradually phase out the affected trucks.

    “The leadership of NARTO is not in any way against the decision of the Federal Government to ban the use of trucks with more than 45,000 litres capacity in the conveyance of petroleum products considering the dilapidated state of Nigerian roads,” he said.

    Othman said the association was particularly concerned about the sudden and prompt nature of the ban, which according to him was considered as highly insensitive to the huge investments the owners of the trucks have made and debts they incurred in executing the mandate given by previous administration.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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