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No more subsidy on petrol prices: Lai Mohammed

By The Rainbow
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  • FG says it will not censor online publications

The Federal Government  will no longer be involved in the payment of subsidy on petrol, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said. .

The government early in January reduced the pump price of petroleum products from N87 per litre to N86.5 per litre as reflection of dwindling crude oil prices, but it was not categorical whether that marked total removal of subsidy from the prices of petrol.

However, it entirely left out provision for subsidy in the budget which was an obvious indication that an end has come for the vexed issue of petrol subsidy.

Mohammed  spoke during a  meeting with members of Guild of Corporate Online Publishers in Ikeja, Lagos on Friday admitted that at the current pump price of petrol, the government is not incurring any subsidy on petrol.

While being subtle in his response to this question of subsidy, the minister however  admitted that the prices of the product is likely to go up when the prices of crude oil rises. But he said that the government is working hard to ensure that all forms of rents and leakages are clean out to ensure that all inefficiencies are cut out to sure reasonable prices at all times no matter the price of the crude oil.

On the concern of some Nigerians that the current pump prices of petroleum products in Nigeria do not reflect the rock-bottom prices of crude in the international market and the prices of the products in other major oil producing countries, Mohammed said it will be difficult to achieve a very competitive pricing of petroleum products with Nigeria still importing the bulk of products consumed in the domestic market.

Reacting to a journalist’s observation that the prices of the products in say US are much lower than what Nigerians pay for the products, he said that Nigerians should not be unmindful of the fact so much factors are in-putted into the template from which the prices paid by consumers are derived.

According to him, factored in the prices of Nigerians pay as against countries with efficient refineries are the transportation costs, various forms or taxes, labour at both the refining and consumption end, insurance and other freight charges.

He said that Nigeria’s products will only become competitive when the country is able to refine all its domestic needs.

Mohammed assured online publishers that the Federal Government will not censor or regulate online publishing in Nigeria

According to him,  it is the belief of the government that online publishers as responsible citizen of the country would self-regulate to ensure that operate with the noble ethos of journalism.

He said that it is also in the  interest of the publishers and their publications to maintain accuracy and professionalism in their reporting for their mediums to be credible and attract business on a sustainable bases.

“Let me assure you that the Federal Government has no intention whatsoever to regulate or censor online publications. We believe that you the publishers are responsible enough to self-regulate in order to ensure longevity and survival. If an online publication suffers credibility problems it has chance of losing the confidence of the public, the advertisers who provide the life wire for its existence”, he said.

He assured the online publishers of the support of the government in so far they practice their trade professionally without descent to despicable practices.

He sought the Publishers' support to ensure the success of the various campaigns that have either being launched or are about to be launched by the Federal Government.

”The National Security Awareness Campaign, aimed at rallying the support of Nigerians for the war on terror, is ongoing. Also, the National Sensitization Campaign against Corruption was formally launched in Abuja on Monday, and it is aimed at rallying Nigerians against the cankerworm of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of our society. We are also preparing to launch a National Re-orientation Campaign, which is tagged 'CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME', to achieve a paradigm shift in the way we do things,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

Describing the war against corruption as one of the cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration, he said: ”Some have said the government is dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance. Our response to that is that indeed, there is nothing like dwelling too much on this war, which is a war of survival for our nation.

”The situation is grim, very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned. That is why the Federal Government is embarking on this sensitization Campaign Our approach is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of the cost of corruption.”

Mohammed said that the fact that  while the country’s budget had grown consistently from just over 900 billion Naira in 1999 to over 6 trillion Naira in 2016, poverty has also grown almost in direct proportion, amply underscores the import of corruption on the people.

”The simple reason is that appropriated funds have ended up in the pockets of a few,” he said.

According to him,  the amounts collected by those who benefitted from the funds allegedly collected money from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)  under the Dasukigate are and more than funds allocated for the 2015 Zonal Intervention Projects.

”The amount received by 21 individuals and companies from ONSA is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by 2.829 billion Naira,”he said.

”Whereas the sum of 51.829 billion Naira was appropriated for 1,278 projects in the Zonal Intervention Projects for 2015, a total of 21 individuals and companies benefited from the Dasukigate to the tune of 54.659 billion Naira as we know so far.

”The implication, therefore, is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by 2.829 billion Naira! Furthermore, the value of what beneficiaries of Dasukigate contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved by the Zonal Intervention Projects which would have cost 2.829 billion Naira less than Dasukigate.

He appealed to the Online Publishers to support the war against corruption by ensuring that Nigerians are well informed about the evils of corruption, saying: ”This is not Buhari's war. This is not APC's war. This is Nigeria's war and failure is not an option.”