By Nnimmo Bassey – Nnimmo’s Reflections (Oil Politics), 24 December 2015
The movement against subsidising the fossil fuel industry continues to grow and is an integral part of the keep it in the ground struggle. However, in places like Nigeria, contentious subsidies are those related to the importation of petroleum products. The debate is yet to fully focus on the cost of production and related malfeasances.
The last mass national mobilisation in Nigeria happened in January 2012 when the pump price of petrol was raised from 65 Naira to 141 Naira per litre. The reasons given by the government then was that the increase in pump price of petroleum products was necessitated by a removal of subsidies.
The mobilisations lasted a full week and literally brought the government to its knees. The debates during and after the protests threw up many questions:
• Why should Nigeria export crude oil only to import refined products?
• Why are the refineries not functioning as they should despite heavy investments in their maintenance?
• What is the value of the subsidies and would government need to subsidise if the products were refined in Nigeria?
• Is there in fact any subsidy?
• What volume of products actually imported into Nigeria?
• What quantity of petroleum products are consumed in Nigeria?