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Subsidy War: Okonjo Iweala (2) vs. Oil Barons (0)

By on November 15, 2012

Finance minister, Okonjo Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has never appeared as a person whose integrity can be compromised, no matter how juicy the enticement. Remember during her first term as a public servant in Nigeria, when the Presidency bounced her about the cabinet. Some said she profited from the debt write-off of Nigeria’s Paris club obligations, evidence was never provided and the matter died now. Others said Obasanjo was bouncing her about because she would not do his “bidding” in that position. I was one of the others. No matter the case, when I turned on Channels Television and saw Ifeanyi Uba accusing the Minister of using his company and person to play Anambra State politics, I wondered how strong the stuff he was taking was. I could call my supplier and see if there was any stronger version I could also ingest, perhaps then I could also amplify my imagination and maybe emerge a better writer,

Truth be told, in the subsidy games, which is another term for a gentleman’s war, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the coordinating Minister of the Economy is winning and the losers don’t like the way its going down. We’ve heard about assassination threats, allusions to corruption and all other manner of dirty, below the belt fighting, but what we haven’t heard is how Nigeria’s subsidy money is being stolen anymore.

Ngozi has made it too stressful for the marketers to steal, fuel importation business has suddenly become less glamorous and is now the domain of serious minded business persons.

What’s even more  or less surprising is the fact that the minister can’t shout. She hardly responds to allegations or counter-allegations. She snobs the smear campaigns and continues the good work she is doing for this country.

Nigerians are the type that want instant results, and the fact is short of Okonjo Iweala, maybe we would have required Obafemi Awolowo or Nnamdi Azikwe to resurrect and help us restore sanity to the system. Iweala is easily President Jonathan’s best appointment, and I doubt anyone is arguing.

The present fuel scarcity across the country is an effect of the cleansing the minister has caused. In the words of the late Tupac Shakur, she has made it “hell for a hustler”. The doors of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) should have a signpost that says ‘ONLY LEGITIMATE BUSINESSMEN NEED APPLY’.

Nigerians should prepare to suffer for a little while but we ought to throw our weight behind the minister on this one, as it seems she is genuinely fighting a war against graft, abuse and a systematic and irresponsible rape of the Nigerian people and their resources.

She should however ensure her principal does not factor in any more fuel hikes again throughout the lifetime of this administration. In fact  Nigerians want to see reductions and they deserve to see reductions. If the country has the third largest refining capacity in Africa, lagging only slightly behind Egypt and South Africa, and Mr. President has given her colleague Alison Madueke until March to get the refineries working, then the budgeted expenditure for subsidies should be reduced even further in 2013. Once the refineries are functioning properly, market forces should come into play and the price of petrol should fall even further.

As for the oil barons, perhaps they should try their hands at a more legitimate business venture, something like pure water manufacturing. How does the saying about an honest day’s wage go again?


  1. edum

    November 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

    SO HELP US GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. princewill

    November 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks so much Ngozi.

  3. Charles E. Onyeador

    November 26, 2012 at 9:02 am

    The situation has only one solution. We must fully de-regulate d downstream petroleum sector. First, increase d selling price of products to ensure that it covers cost of production + reasonable profit margin. When I say cost of production, I mean cost of producing petoleum products by global pricing in other refineries of d world– not NNPC costs that are laden with inefficiency & corruption indices. That will make local refining in Nigeria to be d attractive business that it really is all over d world. Govt should concentrate on ensuring thaat all other obstacles are removed & a level playing ground provided. Thats all. I promise u that in d next 5 years, there will be more than 10 new private refineries operating at close to 100% of installed capacity. Secondly, sell off d existing 4 refineries to world class refiners with proven capabilities to refurbish & run.
    Anything short of this will result to d same merry go round that we have been involved in 4 d past 16 years. Pls recall that successive govts from IBB, Abacha, Abdulsalam, & Obasanjo have spent over 2.9 Billion USD in TAM 4 these refineries. Where did it take us? It only afforded govt officials & their political masters opportunity to steal our commonwealth. Now d present govt has earmarked another 1.3 Billion USD for TAM of d same 4 refineries. Another amount that will disappear without solving anything.
    We now know who d real beneficiaries of fuel subsidy are judging by d investigations that were conducted recently. Certainly, not d masses which were used as d reason 4 d mass protest in Jan’12. The earlier we summon enough courage to take this decision, the better for us all.