• *Forwarded as Received *
    The cost of petrol per gallon in California is not the same in Texas. In the United States, there is no such thing as a fixed subsidized national price for fuel. In Alaska you can buy fuel for above $3 while in Maryland, it is slightly above $2.

    The logic is simple. The United States is a federation and as such, the federal government cannot decide in totality what the price of fuel should be in both California and Texas. These are autonomous states and therefore have a degree of control over how petrol is sold and regulated in their territory. A state that is opposed to global warming can impose a 3 cent tax on fuel to discourage residents from burning too much fuel in the state!

    Let us return to Nigeria.

    In Nigeria, while a basket of tomatoe could sell for NGN5,000 in Kano, the same tomatoes could be selling for NGN15,000 in Lagos. The reason why this is so is simple. The federal government is not in charge of the tomatoes business. So there is no injustice in buying a basket of tomatoes cheaper in it's place of production (Kano) than in the place where it is more valuable (Lagos).

    In the tomatoe business, the end user in Lagos pays for the risk, transportation and even taxes for the tomatoes he consumes. This is how it should be anyway.

    Let's look at petrol in Nigeria.

    In Nigeria, the price of petrol in Sokoto is the same as the price of Petrol in Port Harcourt. Why? Because the federal government has so much money and can therefore pay for this to be so.

    Remember, in the tomatoes business, the end user in Lagos pays for the transportation, but in the petrol business, the federal government pays for the end user in Sokoto! I am not done.

    The reason why the FG pays subsidy for fuel is not because it wants to necessarily make the product cheap, it is because it wants to make the price of the product uniform across Nigeria. Remember, in reality, Nigeria is a unitary state.

    I do not need to remind Nigerians about how much we have spent in making petroleum products unified for the past decades.

    Let me stop here.

    If a country like the USA with more than 140 refineries does not have a unified subsidized price for petrol across their federation, why then should a poor country like Nigeria with less than 5 refineries have a fixed subsidized price for petrol? We are simply eating up our future believing that governance is charity and government must continue to give us cheap petroleum products, free university education, free roads (we hate tolls), cheap electricity (we hate to pay bills) and free health care. I even hear that in some part of Nigeria, governments now arrange free marriages for people!

    Nigeria is a poor country and as such cannot afford these unsustainable socialist welfare packages.

    When we say Nigeria is not a federation, some experts would oppose us by claiming that there are Houses of Assembly in the states and that those Assemblies can make laws, so therefore Nigeria is a federation.

    When next you meet with your state legislator, ask him if they as lawmakers are capable of making a law that would empower the state government to begin the issuance of petrol station licenses, ask him if he can make a law that would demand that the state government makes a tax profit of one or two Naira on every petrol sold in the state. Ask him if they can make a law that would empower the state government to begin the issuance of ordinary driver's licenses to motorists in the state. If his answer is yes to any of the above question, then I will agree with you that Nigeria is a federation.

    A federation where a state government cannot even issue out ordinary driver's license, is that one a federation?

    Until we restructure Nigeria, entrench true federalism and give back the rightful economic and political powers to our states and localities, expect issues like fuel scarcity, corruption, prebendalism, nepotism and hypocrisy to remain as our national political culture.

    Enough of this skewed evil military unitary feeding bottle system we falsely call a federal system in Nigeria. If we cannot talk about the real root causes of our national problems in Nigeria, then we should simply keep quiet and stop talking about trivialities.

    In a proper federal system and in a country like Nigeria, the price of fuel in Warri should not be same in Yola. The federal government should not continue and cannot afford to pay subsidy (whether directly or in forex) on petroleum products. Let the market, state government taxes, state government position on climate change and locations decide the final cost.

    And yes, as long as Nigerians are buying fuel at a fixed national rate across the country, the federal government is still paying subsidy, either directly in cash, forex or kind.

    It is insanity to expect the FG to solely regulate and tax thousands of petrol stations across the whole of Nigeria. You will agree with me that it is easier for state governments to manage and discipline fuel stations hoarding fuel than for DPR (FG) to do so.

    If we do not put an end to this unitary system on time, the unitary system will end us in time.

    I still don't understand why the FG is unwilling to give up some of these powers to the states and save itself from the blames that comes with such responsibilities.


    Visit www.RestructureNigeria.ng to learn more about how restructuring and true federalism can help fix many issues in Nigeria.

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