The leadership of Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has described the lingering scarcity of petroleum product as embarrassment and shame of a nation that is blessed with abundant natural resources.
It said the age-long fuel subsidy was in fact, subsidising inefficiency, corruption and consumption.
Although marketers have adjusted the pump price of fuel from between N184 and N300, yet, LEADERSHIP noticed that long queues are still seen at filling stations even as federal government denied giving marketers permission to hike price of fuel.
Hence, the OPS reiterated its call for gradual removal of subsidy with clear roadmap and cushioning mechanism for the citizens.
The mouthpiece of OPS, NECA's director general, Mr Adewale-Smith Ayorinde, in the statement, lamented that, in spite the country has sunk over N20 trillion in a decade on fuel subsidy, yet, in 2022 alone, over N5 trillion was expended and over N3 trillion budgeted for same in the 2023 budget, yet the mystery surrounding scarcity of fuel has not been resolved.
He lamented that, it becomes more worrisome since the same product that is being subsidised and supposed to be sold at pump price of about N165 per litre, is being sold for over N300 and in some instances, N650 per litre across the nation.
"Since 1973 when fuel subsidy mechanism was introduced as a tool to cushion the landing cost of the petroleum products as a result of the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries, subsidy has taken a frightening turn, becoming a major drain in the purse of the nation.
"It is no gainsaying, that the subsidy regime as currently operated is shrouded in secrecy and fraught with corruption. The humongous amount spent in the guise of subsidy regime is literally being used to subsidize inefficiency, corruption and consumption," he stressed.
Still expressing the mind of OPSN, Ayorinde said, in other climes, these funds would have been judiciously used for more productive activities that will directly impact the lives of citizens, most especially provision of infrastructural facilities.
Few years ago, he said, the report of a Presidential Committee on Veriﬁcation and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments between 2009 and 2011, showed that, about N667billion ($4.3billion) was being mismanaged annually subsidizing millions of litres of petrol that Nigerians never used, or even needed.
To him, "recent comments by high-ranking Government officials including the Comptroller-General of Customs also alluded to the fact that the subsidy scheme is a brazen rape of our scarce resources.
"While the major misalignment within stakeholders is basically on the likely effect of the sudden subsidy removal and attendant price adjustment on household income and general standard of living of Nigerians, the greater argument remains the unsustainability, fiscal loss and the recklessness associated with the subsidy regime.
"This argument is further weakened by the current situation where Nigerians are already paying over N300-N650 per litre for the same product that is supposed to have been subsidized."