Former Minister of Interior and Chairman Genesis Worldwide Shipping, parent company of Integrated Oil & Gas Ltd, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho (retd.) has foretold that oil subsidy budget by the federal government for 2013 fiscal year will surpass the N888 billion which the federal government budgeted for subsidy this year.
A relentless advocate of the subsidy removal agenda, Capt Ihenacho told LEADERSHIP in an exclusive interview in his office in Apapa, Lagos that current developments regarding the subsidy regime had vindicated his support for absolute removal of subsidy by government.
“I think that you have to know that even that N888 billion is actually part of the estimates of what is required, because if you are well aware of current thinking, that N888 billion includes all arrears of 2011. It also involves some over N300 billion subsidies on kerosene. So, the real amount of the budget for subsidy in the N888 billion is still under N300 billion and so far, proper statistics have shown that the subsidy requirement in the period is more than double what was budgeted for.
“So, it’s not really a question of saying in absolute sense that we are paying too much. If this is what we are consuming, we really must take necessary steps. I read about it today and we have been saying it all along that the solution to all of these is the removal of subsidy, so that those who actually use petroleum products should be able to pay for what they use,” he explained.
He however called on the government to ensure that oil importers who abused the regime answer for their crimes, as he said total removal and rechanneling of the supposed subsidy funds remain the way forward.
Stressing that the average Nigerian’s benefit from fuel subsidy was insignificant compared to the benefits derived by the rich and the middle class citizens, the former minister said Nigerians should be more concerned about targeted programmes for the poor citizens.
“It is not speculation or a question of somebody telling you fiction, it is fact that you can go and crosscheck and can see for yourself exactly where this whole thing is coming from.