Chris Azubogu, a federal lawmaker from Anambra State, expressed his view on Nigeria’s economy, stating that the continuation of petroleum subsidy has been detrimental. He lamented the fact that the country has not withdrawn from this practice since 2011. Azubogu made these remarks during an episode of the television program Focus Nigeria, broadcasted on the Africa Independent Television.
Upon assuming office on May 29, Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, declared an end to petroleum subsidy. However, this decision led to a rapid increase in the price of petrol and transportation fares within a week. The cost of one liter of petrol escalated from N189 to N540, marking the largest margin in decades. As a result, Nigerians are struggling to meet their daily needs, with some unable to afford commuting to work.
Azubogu, who has served three terms in the House of Representatives, believes that the current challenges faced by Nigerians due to the removal of subsidy could have been avoided if it had been done in 2011. This statement suggests that he holds past leaders responsible for not eliminating the subsidy earlier. He argues that in 2011, the country possessed greater economic capacity to sustain the impact of subsidy removal compared to the present.
He explained that by co-locating new refineries with existing ones, Nigeria could have significantly increased its refining capacity and produced enough petrol. This would have allowed the country to export and capture sub-Saharan markets. Azubogu emphasized the importance of exploring alternative energy sources like gas-to-energy, which could enable the sale of power and stimulate the financial sector to invest in various productive sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing. By channeling the youthful and energetic population into these sectors, he believes that crime rates would decrease.
Expressing his disappointment, Azubogu finds it embarrassing and shameful that after 60 years of oil exploration, Nigeria still relies on fuel imports and subsidies. He considers it meaningless to possess resources without processing or adding value to them. Over the past 12 to 14 years, the country has been heavily dependent on fuel imports, resulting in wastage, inefficiency, and revenue loss. He finds it unacceptable that Nigeria cannot refine its own fuel after more than six decades and considers it a straightforward task.