Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor has explained why he opposed the fuel subsidy proposals in President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 Supplementary Budget.
In an interview with Vanguard, Ogor pointed out that the figure quoted to offset subsidy owed in just a quarter was too much, especially coming at a time when global oil prices are very low.
“Firstly, you are trying to pay a subsidy of about N413bn, that is the highest figure you can ever think of. That subsidy came under the fourth quarter, and it was notwithstanding that the price of PMS has dropped drastically at the international market. And you know the budget was predicated on $48 per barrel. But outside that, you can look at how long that there has been a drop in the price of oil. So, what has led to this high increase subsidy specifically when the APC government has continuously insisted that the subsidy is a fraud? And I want to quote Lai Mohammed verbatim; he insisted from day one that the subsidy regime is all fraud, it is a fraudulent process and there is no way they were going to allow it.
“When you compare it to that of Jonathan’s admin, it is totally unacceptable. And that is why I insisted that there is no problem passing the budget. But the Committee on Finance, which is a committee of the House and not a committee of a political party, should do a proper research and ask why we should be paying subsidy at such a high rate when the price of crude oil is dropping.
“The other question is, who actually are the beneficiaries of this subsidy? Because, at the end of the day, the essence of subsidy is to make sure that the common man is the beneficiary. If government is spending N413bn in less than seven months, who are actually the beneficiaries of this subsidy? Is it the common man or the rich ones that live in high brow areas? I think these are the questions we need to answer. How many vehicles does the common man use? How much is fuel in Abuja compared to fuel probably in Maiduguri? How much is it in Abuja compared to Kano, compared to Bornu, compared to Zamfara, compared to Onitsha or even Enugu? Are those people actually being subsidized? These are many questions that we need to find answers to. And if you ask me, the truth here is that there is no subsidy in all these areas except Lagos and Abuja.
“I was very keen and interested in pointing out all these issues so that, at the end of the day, we should look at this budget from national perspective, look at national interest and address the issues and there are so many errors in the whole budget process because, when you look at the fiscal regime presented by the executive, clearly you will see that instead of them bringing or rather articulating the subsidy as N413bn, in their proposal, it was presented as N100bn,” Ogor said.