Sunday, 19 May 2013
Between Jonathan And NNPC’s Criminal Kerosene Racketeering By Ifeanyi Izeze
Statistics from the NNPC indicate that an average of about 9 million litres of kerosene is consumed daily in this country with the bulk of consumers being in the poor, low -income and the middle class brackets. Is not worrying that for almost two years running, the issue of the senselessly high cost of kerosene a commodity that is mainly used by these deprived Nigerians has remained unresolved despite the hundreds of billions of Naira our government is said to be paying as subsidy for the product? How can a government that is supposed to be “of the people by the people and for the people” display such callous aloofness to the sufferings “of this same people inflicted by the people that were supposed to be sitting for the interest of these suffering people?
Though it is well known that kerosene was supposed to be officially regulated at N50 per litre but how much are the ordinary Nigerians paying for this product and who in government is actually bothered about this aberration? Is it not funny that kerosene used by the masses for their everyday survival costs more than petrol and diesel in this country? It is even more annoying that the current hardship faced by the majority of the citizenry that depend on kerosene could be traced to sharp business practices by people in and around government and its agencies.
Frankly, in this kerosene matter, the gulf between the price as regulated in the mind of government and what the ordinary Nigerians actually pay for it is a clear indication of how serious the Jonathan government considers the welfare and wellbeing of the poor, low- income and the middle- class segments of our society.
Severally it has been said that no matter what the administrators of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may coerce us to believe, the nation’s apex oil concern is full of glaring aberrations some systemic, most deliberately dubious. It would be recalled that both the Association of Petroleum Products Marketers and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria in December last year petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan and alleged that the NNPC is the source of the sharp practices in kerosene marketing and consequent high cost of the product. According to the group, “The sharp practice is attractive, because while NNPC which was supposed to sell kerosene at the subsidised price of N50 per litre, now sells DPK as aviation fuel at about N152 per litre to airline operators.
The tragedy of the NNPC fraud is that because aviation fuel, Jet A1, has been very scarce and airline operators have resorted to the use of DPK as substitute for Jet A1, the NNPC and its importers now found it more profitable to sell the subsidised kerosene (DPK) to the airline operators that buy at more than triple the official government-pegged pump price for kerosene.
Statistics from the PPPRA show that the landing cost of DPK is N108.06, local distribution takes another N13.20 per litre, bringing the ex-depot price to N121.26 per litre against the federal government’s official pump price of N50 per litre, showing a subsidy of N71.26 on every litre. So selling to the airlines at N152 per litre, the NNPC makes extra N30 on every litre thus bringing its rake-in to about N100 on every litre of kerosene brought into this country. Good business is it not? But the question is: at whose expense?
As at today, whatever trickles out at some of the NNPC mega stations as kerosene for domestic use is just to justify the corporation’s continued stealing of the nation’s resources in the name of subsidy on kerosene. Worsening the already bad situation, some marketers that have “dubious connections” in the NNPC in most cases buy- up whatever is available to re-sell to Nigerians for household use at between N150-N350 per litre depending on the distance from the coastal storage facilities.
Is it not curious that none of the self-acclaimed advocates for the interests of the Nigerian workers and masses- the Trade Union Congress, Nigerian Labour Congress, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and even the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has seen anything wrong in the issue of availability of kerosene to the ordinary citizens of this country to warrant any form of protest or face-off with government? Meanwhile, these same groups would spit fire on the slightest upward review of the prices of petrol and diesel. What kind of a selfish bunch of people do we say represent us?
The DPR is the body statutorily responsible for the regulation of the oil and gas industry and that includes licensing and supervising the importation, distribution and sales of petroleum products. But for whatever reasons since Jonathan came in, NNPC has hijacked that role and assumed the dual role of being the sole importer of kerosene and at the same time the regulator of its distribution. Truth be told, the current scarcity or rather the abnormally high price of kerosene was deliberately caused by the NNPC in its politics with another drain-pipe in the nation’s fuel delivery service- the PPPRA.
And this is what the President must hear because the strata of the society bearing the brunt of the kerosene scarcity were the same people that stood against all opposition to insist Jonathan was preferred when divine providence threw him up. So if he is their president actually, Jonathan implement urgent measures to address this seriously biting problem.
(IFEANYI IZEZE, Abuja: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters