05 June 2014, Abuja – FORMER Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche has described the subsisting oil subsidy regime by the federal government as a scam which must be phased out by December, 2014.
Nwuche, a delegate at the on- going National Conference on the platform of House of Representatives Forum noted that though the subsidy had very good intention, but the impact on the poor was questionable and dubious, said, “In removing the subsidy, I still think the government should be mindful of the impact on the poor even though that impact is questionable and dubious.
“This is because it is a known fact that the poor for whom it is meant are not getting it. But we should ensure we give adequate time for people to be aware of the benefits that will accrue from the savings that will be derived by targeting the subsidy allocations to other sectors and while removing it from oil products itself. This because it has been proven it is a scam.”
Suggesting that the subsidy regime be phased out by December 2014, he said, “Five months is not bad. The time from now till then should be used for education and enlightenment and to also craft alternative reliefs for the poor.
“Subsidy tends to favour only a very few. There should some order of ensuring that the funds from subsidy get to the masses. I believe that subsidy is well-intentioned but as it stands now those that it is intended for hardly get it.
“Therefore there is no point wasting money. Let us find other targeted measures to alleviate the suffering of the masses to cushion the effects of hardship and poverty on them.
“What we should do is that we should first of all fix our refineries and make them work optimally. There is no reason for a country that produces oil to be mimporting refined products. It is a shame and we must try to correct this quickly. We must refine as much of the crude we produce as possible and export products to other countries.
“We must not be importing refined products when we produce the crude here. I am proposing we find some more targeted and more transparent avenues of deploying some subsidy, not from petroleum products as such but from other areas to cushion the impact of difficulties that people currently face and to support those who are underprivileged.”
“The fact is that government has not been a good manager of such assets. I will recommend they be privatised and let Nigerians manage them maybe with foreign partnerships. This way it will be more efficient.
“If you allow government to handle it the way is, it will simply be going down further and further. They have tried to manage it for the past thirty, forty years and have not succeeded. So why do you think they will succeed now. I think it will just be putting good money after bad. They should be sold.”