Why NLC, TUC must re-think their acceptance of the government’s deceptive & inhuman policy of deregulation



Reproduced below is an excerpt of the interview granted eight years ago by Professor Tam David-West, Petroleum Minister during the era of General Muhammadu Buhari, to GBENRO ADESINA of The NEWS on the controversy over oil subsidy removal.


For the layman on the street, does oil subsidy exist?

There is no oil subsidy in Nigeria. It is a lie and fraud. After the regime of General Buhari, I challenged government after government, from General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Ernest Shonekan to General Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to appear on national television with me to justify their subsidy.

Let me introduce you to the basics. Let us say a particular commodity like gari is sold for N10 per bag hypothetically and the farmers are producing to make us self-sufficient at N10. But at a time, they can’t produce enough because of either bad harvest or natural causes, the government now says since gari is a staple food, the government goes to another country where gari is produced and buys it at N20 per bag and brings it to Nigeria to sell at N10 per bag. The government now writes off the extra N10 –– that is subsidy. The extra N10 the government pays on behalf of the people for them to still buy at N10 is the subsidy paid on that commodity.

No government should exist if it can’t serve the people because government is a trust. They are trustees for the people. Edmund Burke, the great British philosopher, said that government is a contrivance of human wisdom and the wisdom should be used to satisfy people’s needs. Any government that can’t satisfy the need of its people is irrelevant and must be overthrown and kicked out.

Professor Tam David West

Coming to petroleum, there is no oil subsidy. Oil subsidy in Nigeria is fiction, it doesn’t exist and it is a fraud. During Buhari’s time, we had three refineries. When necessary, I mean, whenever there was shortage of oil, we embarked on offshore processing. If at a time, the production of oil couldn’t satisfy our needs, we selected oil companies like Shell and others that we would give crude oil to refine abroad, sell at foreign exchange and pay to our account. We got quantum of barrels of crude oil and gave to these companies and after they might have refined it, let’s say they got one million litres and we needed only 200 litres, they would give us the quantity we wanted and sell the remaining and give us foreign exchange. We only took our fuel back, never imported fuel.

This time what do they do? These fraudulent people will take our oil, refine it and bring it back and sell it at foreign exchange. This is fraud in the highest places. Why is it that during Buhari era, with three refineries we were self sufficient but at this time, with four refineries we are now importing fuel?

I personally signed the contract of the fourth refinery which we call new Port Harcourt Refinery in 1984. It was one of the best in Africa, with a capacity of 160,000 barrels per day. The first refinery, in Port Harcourt, was built in 1965; Warri refinery in 1978, and Kaduna refinery in 1980. A newly constructed refinery can’t have major problem for about 30 years. The problem they will not tell you is that after Buhari, every Minister and Head of State became an oil sheikh, except General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

Some ministers have petrol stations and oil blocs. You can’t serve the nation and serve yourself at the same time because you can’t serve two masters at a time. One must serve his country and the dividends of doing this is satisfaction. Total capacity of our four refineries is 445,000 barrels per day. If the refineries are working even at 80 per cent, we will have more than enough product. They did not do that but sabotaged our refineries.

I have been shouting since 1995 and I wrote that they are killing Nigeria and poor men. And in 2009, the House of Representatives corroborated me by saying that refineries were sabotaged. Abdulsalam as head of state, reacting to the state of our refineries, said he didn’t want to open a box of scandal. Why did they do this to the common man? Who are the importers? Big people!

A senator said this year, Nigeria spends N860 million on fuel importation and they projected that by the end of the year, over N1 trillion will be spent on importation of fuel when our budget is N4.3 trillion. Insanity! Dan Etete said they needed $250 million to repair the refineries but the same minister said Nigeria is importing fuel at $900 million. Is that not insanity? If you need this huge amount of money to repair refineries, why don’t you build new refineries? The money you are using to import, use it to build refineries.

Why do you think Obasanjo did not repair the four refineries we had and build four extra for petroleum to be sold at N20 as he analysed when he was in power?

Olusegun Obasanjo is a great liar. They will not do so in order to continue to import fuel for selfish reasons.

Is it true that Nigeria has the lowest prices of refined products among oil producing countries?

Forget Jonathan! He doesn’t understand what he is saying. He is only parroting what they told him. He talks like a parrot. Can he remove what doesn’t exist? Can’t we build our own refineries to serve us and remove the untold hardship they want to impose on us? Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the subsidy goes to the wrong hands. If they remove it, will people not suffer the more? Everything will increase. The new minimum wage of N18,000 will become N2,000.

But Obasanjo said because it is built in phases, it will take about five years to build a refinery?

It is a lie. I told you Obasanjo is a liar. It took just two years to build the fourth refinery. I signed its contract. It is between two and three years. The problem is that there is intellectual laziness and physical indolence. In developed countries, the president will not just talk without being well quizzed. But in Nigeria, at a media chat once, Obasanjo shouted on journalists or talked to them as a teacher. They kept quiet. It doesn’t take five years to build a refinery.


In the run down to the 2015 general election, when the Buhari-APC appealed to the Nigerian people, with its alleged change-mantra, JAF cautioned that: Irrespective of the party that wins the presidential election, the crisis in the economy is bound to continue because the economic agenda of the two major parties (PDP and APC) remains dependent on oil and capitalist policies of privatisation and deregulation. These policies are operated and championed by servants of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose main business is to steal our national wealth for the use of the exploiters in Europe, United States of America, Japan, Asia, etc.


Email: jnt_action@yahoo.co.uk, www.jointactionfront.blogspot.com

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