Tinubu has hit the ground running, showing determination, courage — Doyin Okupe

Okupe, an ex-aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his piece titled: “For President Bola Tinubu: Still Many Rivers to Cross,” applauded the President for abolishing fuel subsidies and equalizing foreign exchange. 

He said: “President Bola Tinubu actually hit the ground sprinting; showing much determination, zeal commitment, and courage. He has taken 2 extraordinarily bold steps abolishing fuel subsidies and equalizing foreign exchange. 

“This without a doubt is causing very severe pain and hardship to the populace. However, in order to ground these policies properly, and reduce the pain on the populace, the President will still need to take more bolder steps.

“1. Nigeria must quit OPEC. – In about two decades from now, oil reserves may become meaningless. The present allocation of less than 2 million barrels per day for Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people and its prevailing strangulating economic conditions, given volumes of export to our main foreign exchange earner (90%) is inimical to our growth as a nation and to the wellbeing of the citizens.

“Outside OPEC, Nigeria can reduce its selling price of crude but also increase its exports to 3 million barrels and above per day. 

“This will increase accruable revenue from forex by up to 200% or more, which will allow the CBN to have more supply of forex to the banks. In the face of surplus liquidity in forex supply, Naira will gain tremendous value over the Dollar.

“2. The present situation whereby the oil majors earn 60% of our accruable revenue from sales of oil leaving Nigeria with only 40% is no longer economically and financially prudent or reasonable. Saudi Arabia, using its own Aramco drills its own oil and earns 100% of the revenue from sales. “We may not be able to achieve this instantly, but we should renegotiate with the oil majors for the ratio to shift in the favor of Nigeria to 60:40 minimum, even if we must add considerable investment in the processing for oil.

“3. The NNPC can no longer serve fully, and neither can it meet the full expectations of its obligations to the Nigerian people. I am inclined to recommend that the President and his team should take a look and study the Atiku Abubakar model as it concerns the NNPC as a commercial entity.

“4. Most of the local refineries can still be made to be functional for the next 50 years. Part of the massive revenue inflow from the equalization of the forex regime should be used to refurbish once and for all, all our refineries, employing the best acceptable international bidding procedures to choose reputable international contractors to be engaged in the refurbishment program. 

“This should be done outside the purview of the NNPC and by a special presidential team that will abide by the best principles of honesty and transparency.

“5. Government must instantly liberalize licensing for investors who are interested in building petroleum refineries in Nigeria; especially modular refineries.

“6. The present crop of Nigerians engaged in crude petroleum refining who are scattered all over the place should no longer be hounded by task forces but rather harnessed officially into the downstream sector and licensed under supervision to produce and sell petroleum products.

“7. Government must deploy all powers and resources available to it to put a final end to crude oil theft and limit to the barest minimum, pipeline vandalization throughout the country.

“8. In spite of our leadership of ECOWAS in this period, the Nigerian government should encourage the deployment of diplomatic crises management approach and seek ways by using its influence with the organization to end the crises in Niger as quickly as possible as a precursor to urgent steps that need to be taken towards the activation of the plan to build the trans-Sahara gas pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria and Europe, through Niger and Algeria. 

“If this can be accomplished in the next 3 years, with Nigeria being the 9th highest deposit of gas in the world, sales of gas to Europe will bring in revenue in excess of $30b per annum.

“9. In order to ameliorate the present hardship in the country and give succor, especially to the poor, the government will have to revisit the 100% abolition of fuel subsidies pending the time when some of the items enumerated above can be accomplished. In the meantime, part of the excess inflow from forex equalization can be deployed to fund a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to cover whatever percentage of the subsidy regime that government considers will suffice to grant the desired relief of the current hardship.

“10. The equalization of the foreign exchange regime instantly brings in massive revenue into the federation account from NNPC. Last month, for the first time ever, a sum if 1.5tr was available for sharing among the 3 tiers of government.

“The implication of this is that each tier of government will have the requisite financial cushioning to increase the minimum wage to at least N60,000 per month.

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