By  James Adoke


It was not easy dislodging the economic vampires that almost ruined the nation under the shady petrol subsidy regime.  It was a cesspool of unimaginable sleaze, where men whose sense of patriotism and inordinate quest to amass filthy lucre knew no limits. The fraudulent scheme produced many billionaires who were not creating any meaningful economic values. Through phoney documents, financial claims were made on non-existent petroleum products purportedly imported and  supplied. They smiled at the bank, while the nation groaned under an unsustainable petrol subsidy scheme, with its attendant debt burden.

Successive administrations and managers of the nation’s oil corporation made a series of interventions to restore the sector back on the path of sustainable growth. This led to a raft of reforms that unbundled the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC behemoth. The Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill, PIB, came to the fore, and Nigerians, including industry stakeholders, oil producing communities made inputs into what would later become the law that restored the sector to the path of sanity, and also halt the economic bleeding.

One of the far-reaching fall-out of the reforms is the stoppage of oil subsidy. The payments become obviously unsustainable and it must end. The Muhammadu Buhari administration led the charge by engaging Nigerians on the debilitating effects of the petroleum subsidy payment and setting a deadline for subsidy to go.

Those who had been raping the nation’s economic for years under the petrol subsidy scheme, sneered and doubted if the government will have the political will and courage to end the scheme considering the grave attendant political and electoral consequences that might follow. Moreso, they have amassed so much enough to bring down any government that will dare them. The criminal syndicate has a well-oiled propaganda machinery that will unleash a barrage of misinformation and instigations against the government. 

Sadly for them, President Tinubu came on the scene as the President of the Federal of Nigeria. He came determined to right the wrongs of many years. On the day of his inauguration, he sent missiles into the camp of the nation’s enemies by reiterating that, “Subsidy is gone’. He opened a new chapter for the gradual economic recovery which many like the disgruntled former governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-rufai and his co-travellers are angry about.

El-rufai came very low by alleging that the government of Bola Tinubu had been paying more subsidies than before. Known for making wild claims, without any shred of evidence, the former governor who is still nursing the trauma of not making the cabinet of President Tinubu, reportedly said this in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital after delivering the lead paper at a capacity-building workshop on Enhancing Skills of Government Officials in Policy Implementation and Productive Human Resource Management for political appointees.

He said, “It is the right policy. I have always supported the withdrawal of oil subsidies; but in the course of implementing the policy, the government realised that subsidy has to be back; right now, the government is paying a lot of money for subsidy, even more than before.

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“You start implementing a policy because you are absolutely sure it is the right policy, but in the course of implementation, you come across bottlenecks, and you modify.

“The keyword in leadership, in my view, is pragmatism. You should be pragmatic. So when you make a policy, you start implementing it, and it doesn’t seem to work well. You should have the humility to stand back and say this is not working, and you modify it.”

The former governor who had been out of circulation for months, and suddenly resurfaced to be peddling false narratives as a tactic to deflect attention for the corruption allegations hanging on his neck in the state he governed for eight years.  This red herring is another failed strategy to answer questions on the alleged mismanagement of the $350 million World Bank loan he secured when he was in the saddle.

The Kaduna State House of Assembly, had recently, set up a 13- member fact finding committee to investigate financial transactions, loans, grants and project executions under the eight year administration of former governor Nasir El-rufai, between 2015 and 2023. El-rufai should come clean on how he administered the world bank loan rather than raising public sentiments on the non existing claims of fuel subsidy.

In countering the false claims of El-rufai, some oil marketers and some faceless groups who are parroting that petrol subsidy payment has returned, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, debunked the claims and challenged El-rufai and others to provide evidence for their claims.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri said, “ It is better we get all the facts. As far as I’m concerned, the President removed the subsidy and it remains removed till today. Anybody who is saying that subsidy is being paid, it is left for the person to bring the facts and then we will talk about them”.

Maybe, the former governor can come out with his proof on the payment of subsidy now that he has been challenged. Truth be told, the vested interests who had held down the sector for years are not ready to let the nation go. When you fight corruption, it fights back vigorously. Now that the nation’s petroleum products production capacity is coming back on stream, and there is a sort of price stability in the forex exchange market, with the Nigerian currency gaining by the day, the economic saboteurs and those who had vowed that the government will fail had all become restless.

El-rufai should let the nation be, if he cannot make meaningful contributions to the nation’s development.

•Adoke writes from Abuja