Written by 6:35 am Source News Views: 1

Our leaders tell too many lies – Tribune Online

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Alarmed by the fake promises of Nigerian leaders, Christopher Okigbo wrote in the 60s: “Today-for tomorrow, today becomes yesterday/How many million promises can ever fill a basket?” And then he gave himself a stern warning: “If I don’t learn to shut my mouth I’ll soon go to hell/I, Okigbo, town-crier/ together with my iron bell.” Okigbo went to hell as he feared, but our leaders may need to resurrect and kill him again, because their promises remain a forged certificate.
On Wednesday, President Bola Tinubu assured the leaders of the organised labour, including the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, and the Trade Union Congress president, Festus Osifo, that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations by December. Hear the labour leaders: “He let out a certainty that the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence production by December this year.” Tinubu apparently caved in to pressure; his promise is the same in form and substance with Buhari’s promise in 2015 that things would be okay after three months, and that Nigerians would only suffer for that period, regardless of his intentions.
Now, the news says that a part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company NNPC Limited’s commitment to providing cheaper alternative fuel to motorists, the company has entered into a strategic partnership with NIPCO Gas Limited to deploy Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations across the country. The aim  is to expand Nigeria’s CNG infrastructure, improve access to CNG, and accelerate the adoption of cheaper and cleaner alternative fuel for buses, cars and Keke NAPEP, which would significantly reduce the cost of transportation and engender sustainable national economic growth. Under the partnership, 35 state-of-the-art CNG stations will be constructed nationwide, including three mother stations.Once fully operational, we are informed, the stations can service over 200,000 vehicles daily, thereby significantly reducing the cost of automobile fuel for Nigerians and the cost of transportation. This is great news, but shouldn’t it have come before subsidy removal?
In May, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Dangote Refinery amidst royalty. Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Togo’s Gnassingbé Eyadéma, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Niger Republic’s Mohamed Bazoum  and Chad’s Mahamat Déby were all invited to the epoch-making occasion. The 650,000–barrels-per-day edifice located at the Lekki free zone was, we were told, going to be a game-changer on the African continent: the pipeline infrastructure at the refinery, the largest in the world with 1,100 kilometres, would handle 3 billion standard cubic foot of gas per day. The refinery was expected to meet 100 per cent of the Nigerian requirement of all refined products and also have a surplus of each of these products for export.
The refinery was, of course, not ready, but Buhari had to calm frayed nerves like Tinubu has just done. You see, subsidy payments had steadily risen from N351bn in 2005 to N4.39 trillion in 2022, and N3. 6trn had been earmarked to fund fuel subsidy for the first six months in 2023, and so the government crafted a fine story: it would end fuel imports, and then Dangote refinery would meet local needs. Aliko Dangote, in an interview with the Economist, said with the commencement of operation at the refinery, Nigeria could save up to $10 billion in foreign exchange and generate another $10 billion in exports. The first product of the Dangote Refinery would be out in the market before the end of July and beginning of August 2023, he said. Well, we are in the beginning of August.
Nigerian leaders surely know how to get the masses’ hopes up. In November last year, big news surfaced:  the North had found oil in the Kolmani river. And President Muhammadu Buhari enthused: “We are pleased with the current discovery of over 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion cubic feet of gas within the Kolmani area and the huge potential for more deposits as we intensify exploration efforts. It is good to note that the discovery has now attracted investment for an end-to-end integrated development and monetisation of the hydrocarbon resources …It is therefore to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able attract investment of over $3 billion to this project.” The first phase of the integrated development project, we were told, would yield oil refinery of up to 120,000 barrels per day. There would be a gas processing plant of up to 500 million standard cubic feet per day, a power plant of up to 300-megawatt capacity and a fertiliser plant of 2,500 tons per day. The governors of Bauchi and Gombe states assured Buhari “of their unwavering commitment and willingness to ensure support and cooperation in the localities as the activity affects the local populations is meaningless.” Why is nobody talking about Kolmani now?
Previously on this page, I drew attention to the fact that in September  last year,   even with the country’s refineries having been shut down since November 2020, the NNPCL  left over N136 billion as operational deficits across its three refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri even as it continued the so-called rehabilitation works at the Port Harcourt refinery for $1.5 billion and the Warri and Kaduna refineries for $1.4 billion. When will the “rehabilitation works” be completed? And if the Warri and Kaduna refineries gulped $1.4bn, why are we not talking about their completion in December? Folks, the children of Lucifer who loot the nation blind do not mean for the refineries to work. I mean, in which other country do you pay people billions for doing nothing and maintain refineries for billions of dollars without any results?
The Establishment can console itself with the lie that even with the sudden hike in the pump price of petrol, Nigeria still sells the cheapest fuel in Africa or even the world, but the fact is that fuel is cheaper in 16 other countries, some of which are not even oil-producing nations. While Venezuela fuel is the cheapest in the world, citizens of Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Algeria, Kuwait, Angola, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Bolivia, Iraq, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Russia and Oman pay less for fuel than Nigerians do. All of this only leads me to reiterate a previous position: Nigerian leaders stand eternally damned for their inability to refine the fuel freely given by God. The palm oil they eat daily is the product of refining.
 
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© 2023 Tribune Online – an online publication of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc. All rights reserved
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