Deregulation Ill-Timed: Energy Expert Criticizes Nigeria’s Fuel Subsidy Removal

Bala Zaka, an energy expert, has voiced concerns over the Nigerian economy’s ability to handle deregulation.

He argues that the timing of President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s decision to remove fuel subsidies is inappropriate, considering the current fragility of the economy.

“When I was explaining what deregulation means right before May 29, many people didn’t understand.. Where is the Dangote refinery? Has it started refining since it was commissioned?

“Just look at what has happened to the naira. It has been devalued and is approaching N900 on the black market. Very soon, we won’t be able to afford the basic things of life because even before you drive from your house to Kara on the Ibadan/Oshodi Expressway, your tank would have drained to half already.

“Now, if you try to challenge oil marketers, they can sue you. The likes of IPMAN, MOMAN are after profit maximisation and not after the wellbeing of the masses. But if people like us talk it would look like we are kicking against the government. The minimum wage can’t even buy a bag of rice. I have never been in support of full deregulation,” he said.

A professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Tella Sheriffdeen, advised the government to activate local refining.

“Actually, since the exchange rate is now determined by market forces, depreciation of naira will make oil prices go up. Government has to be hard on oil importers to make sure they are not colluding with economic parasites who will want to jack up prices to force the government to bring back subsidies.

“Secondly, the government must insist on domestic productivity by the refineries and Dangote. It’s just that the government should have plan B to make fuel available by all means,” he said.

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