716 views | Stanley Ugagbe | October 2, 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari has again, come under public backlash following his Independence speech where he compared Nigeria’s fuel price to that of Saudi Arabia.
While noting that Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre, Buhari said “it makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia”.
The President’s remark has formed another debacle in the public domain as several individuals and corporate bodies have publicly berated him. Two of such groups who have knocked the President are the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party.
The TUC, in a statement by its President, Quadri Olaleye said the comparison was unnecessary and “ridiculous as Nigeria was not at par in all ramifications with Saudi Arabia and other countries mentioned.
According to him, the country had achieved nothing despite six decades of oil exploration, noting that the government was paying lip service to infrastructure development.
Olaleye said: “It is like comparing black and white. It is that bad! It is ridiculous to compare Nigeria with Saudi, Dubai, or any other country, not even in Africa. With the natural resources that we have, we could rule the world, but government is not interested. There is no need for this comparison because it looks like the president is defending fraud and the impoverishment of Nigerians.
“Come to think of it, what has Nigeria achieved with all the money made from oil since over six decades of oil exploration in commercial quality? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. All successive leaderships have done is loot, launder and buy properties in foreign land.
“So, if the president is defending the hike (in pump price), what does he want to do with the surplus they will make from the hike? The same old story of providing infrastructure! Our roads are nothing but death traps. Our leaders are not patriotic at all.”
The TUC boss said roads, water, and to some extent, jobs were not big issues in Saudi Arabia. “On the other hand, Nigerians contend with estimated bills because power firms had refused to provide meters,” Olaleye added.
On their party, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “President Buhari’s attempt to justify the increase of fuel price in Nigeria by comparing it to the N168 per liter cost in Saudi Arabia is a morbid joke, noting that the minimum wage in Saudi Arabia is N305,113 (3000 Saudi Riyals), ten times higher than our paltry N30,000 which is largely unimplemented in Nigeria.
“Is Mr. President not aware that, on the average, a person working in Saudi Arabia earns around 4,230SAR (N430, 267) to 16,700 SAR (N1,698,693) per month? Our party charges Mr. President to always check his books before making such offensive comparisons including the price in Egypt where monthly average earning is around N222, 841 (9,200 EGP) against our N30,000.
“In comparing our costs with other countries such as Ghana, Chad and Niger where purchasing powers of citizens are much more higher, did Mr. President reflect on the cost of house rent, education, healthcare and average dependence on fuel for daily survival by ordinary citizens as obtainable in Nigeria?
“If the flawed assertions as evident in Mr. President’s speech are a direct reflection of how policies are formulated in his administration, then one needs not wonder why our economy is in doldrums.
“Indeed, it is imperative to state that if the Buhari administration had summoned the competence and honesty to continue the programs already laid by previous administrations under our party to revive our refineries and provide infrastructural backbone for our productive sector, fuel price will not be more than N100 per liter, in addition to the gains from by-product from crude oil.
“The PDP, therefore, urges Mr. President to engender harmony and productivity by allowing for more robust discourse that will lead to affordable prices for fuel and other essential commodities in our country”.