Being text of a speech delivered by Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly, at the church auditorium on Sunday, the 18th day of December, 2011
Fellow citizens of a potentially great country being daily dehumanised by leaders who hate us, I am here this morning in the normal course of duty, the duty of a shepherd, as stipulated in the book of Jeremiah the Prophet:
- 3. But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
- 4. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:3 & 4, NKJV)
God’s desire for His flock is fruitfulness and increase, but such flock require a different kind of ‘feed’ that will guarantee that they are not afraid, dismayed, or lacking anything. This special feed is “knowledge and understanding” as stated in Jeremiah 3:15
- And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
My objective in this presentation is to confute the confusion created by a government that is hell-bent on the removal of oil subsidy without due regard for the feelings/sufferings of a people being pushed to the wall.
Let me start this presentation from a definitive standpoint and move on to other issues that will bring light and illumination to this manufactured foggy issue. To subsidise is to sell a product below cost of production. Up until this time, neither the federal government nor the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has told us the cost of producing a litre of oil in our Warri, Port Harcourt or Kaduna refineries, so the nation is not in a position to take an informed stand on whether or not oil is being subsidized.
However, according to statistics from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) and National Bureau of Statistics, getting petrol to Nigerian ports costs N117.74 per litre. And because of deliberated gross inefficiency at the Nigerian ports, an additional cost of N6.25 per litre is incurred. The petrol is usually stored at the ports. It is not transferred directly from the ships to the trucks and so the ports charge N3.00 for storage and an administrative cost of N15.00. Other costs include a bridging fund of N3.95 and then the dealers add their margin of N1.75 per litre. The transporters add their own margin of N2.70, while filling stations add a margin of N4.60. So the cost of fuel at petrol stations comes to N138.19 per litre, or approximately N140.00 per litre. And because it is sold for N65 per litre, the federal government pays the shortfall of N75.00 or thereabout on every litre of petrol. This extra N75.00 called subsidy, is what the government says will bankrupt the nation if it is not stopped forthwith.
If you have followed me so far, it will be clear to you that the federal government is not subsidising the cost of production of refined oil in our nation. What the government is subsidising is the alternative cost of importation. This shows clearly that our leaders have allowed their laziness to envelope the entire nation so that we have corporately become a lazy nation according to the biblical definition. In Proverbs 12:24, the Bible states that
- The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession.
Simply put, due to laziness and lack of diligence, our leaders cannot refine enough crude oil for our consumption.
Furthermore, in addition to its exploration activities, NNPC was given powers and operational interests by enabling legislation in refining petrochemicals, transporting products and marketing. Between 1978 and 1989, NNPC constructed refineries in Warri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt and took over the 35,000-barell Shell refinery established in Port Harcourt in 1965 and expanded it to become a two-tier refinery.
Today, the four refineries in Nigeria currently operate at 21% capacity providing 93,450 litres daily, while, on average, Nigerians use 294,000 litres of fuel per day which means that an additional 200,550 litres is imported to meet the domestic need. If you multiply that figure of 200,550 litres by the N75.00 absurdity called subsidy, Nigeria spends N15 million daily to pay for our leadership failure and pathological laziness.
The federal government has been dangling the carrot of what enormous savings they stand to make and then invest in infrastructural development, mass food production, education, health services and minimum wage. These half truths and easy answers are weapons of mass deception as the government cannot save the entirety of the sum being touted for the simple reason that 40% of total fuel consumption is by the government itself.
Fellow citizens of Nigeria, by removing the subsidy – if we ever allow this to take place – Nigerians will be made to pay for the ineptitude of their leaders and the kleptomania of government functionaries. Like other nations, some less endowed, we have the opportunity to set up our own refineries, refine our products, sell and export refined products, and make money. Instead of doing that, both NNPC and the government “explore sleaze, refine roguery and market sharp practices.” They cannot complain that they import at a high price. It is their idiotic choice and Nigerians should not be made scapegoats for their poor choices.
I have other reasons why Nigerians at home and abroad, young and old, must stand against the removal of this absurdity called subsidy, so that the government can be compelled to look inward and stop fleecing the poor people of this nation.
- Successive governments have failed to explain why the refineries have remained incapacitated despite humongous investments over the years on Turn Around Maintenance (TAM);
- At present, the four (4) refineries in Nigeria operate at 21% of their total capacity and produce 93,450 litres per day. We have not been told the cost per litre as earlier mentioned and the reason is not farfetched – the disparity between local cost of production and cost of importation will glaringly show the cost of our leaders’ negligence and incompetence. To show the lack of foresight and unpardonable haemorrhaging of our national economy, if the refineries are made to run at only 66% capacity, they would produce more than the 294,000 litres needed domestically everyday;
- Nigeria under irresponsible leadership prides itself as the sixth (6th) largest producer of oil while wearing the shameful badge of being one of the highest importers of petroleum products, paying as much as N1.3 trillion to sacred fat cats that are untouchable because of compromises at the highest level of government in our nation. Whereas nations more or less endowed as we are, like Libya and Venezuela, refine their own crude oil. Venezuela does not even export a drop of crude. Why does our country continue to export crude oil to countries that then refine and sell it back to us at higher prices?
- Why does NNPC leave its own storage facilities unused and proceed to incur additional costs from leasing third party storage facilities? The DPK tanks with a storage capacity of 18,000 cubic metres at the PPMC depots within the Mosimi area have not been used for three years, though they are in good condition. The cost of leasing third party facilities is passed to the government and entered as subsidy in the books. The owners of these third party facilities are not faceless people, they are part of the cartel siphoning the resources of our nation. They cannot do it without the collaboration of those in the corridors of power;
- The federal government of Nigeria does not tell the whole truth each time it trumpets and blows its propaganda machinery that the present N65.00 per litre we pay for petrol is the lowest in the world. Put side by side with the cost per litre of petrol in other oil producing nations, ours is one of the highest:
Iran sells for N58.40 per litreKuwait: N30.66 per litreQatar: N32.12 per litreSaudi Arabia: N17.52 per litreUnited Arab Emirates: N54.02 per litreLibya: N15.95 per litre
This oil subsidy saga to me is the proverbial handwriting on the wall and this government has taken the toga of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, to further concretise the suffering of our people in the midst of plenty. Rehoboam thought he could continue the profligacy of his father, but the people that were pushed to the wall kicked back because they could not comprehend why their nation had everything but the citizens paradoxically lacked everything.
A cursory look at this scandalous precedent in the Bible and the attendant consequence that ensued will show to the wise and discerning the end-product of taking the people you are meant to serve for granted.
The abundance the land of Israel experienced in the days of Solomon can be likened to the period of our oil boom when one of our military leaders exclaimed that Nigeria’s problem is not money, but how to spend it.
Let’s check the Scriptures for indicators of King Solomon’s stupendous wealth:
a. 1 Kings 10:14-29 (especially vs. 27)
- 14 The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold,
- 15 besides that from the travelling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country.
- 16 And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield.
- 17 He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
- 18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold.
- 19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round at the back; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests.
- 20 Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom.
- 21 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.
- 22 For the king had merchant ships at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.
- 23 So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
- 24 Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
- 25 Each man brought his present: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year.
- 26 And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem.
- 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.
- 28 Also Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price.
- 29 Now a chariot that was imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse one hundred and fifty; and thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
B. King Solomon’s daily provision – 1 Kings 4:20-28
- 20 Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.
- 21 So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.
- 22 Now Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty kors of fine flour, sixty kors of meal,
- 23 ten fatted oxen, twenty oxen from the pastures, and one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl.
- 24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River from Tiphsah even to Gaza, namely over all the kings on this side of the River; and he had peace on every side all around him.
- 25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
- 26 Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
- 27 And these governors, each man in his month, provided food for King Solomon and for all who came to King Solomon’s table. There was no lack in their supply.
- 28 They also brought barley and straw to the proper place, for the horses and steeds, each man according to his charge.
C. The splendour of King Solomon’s cabinet – 2 Chronicles 9:1-8
- 1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions, having a very great retinue, camels that bore spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.
- 2 So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for Solomon that he could not explain it to her.
- 3 And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built,
- 4 the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers and their apparel, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.
- 5 Then she said to the king: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.
- 6 However I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You exceed the fame of which I heard.
- 7 Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!
- 8 Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the LORD your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.
Let’s compare the life of the king and his officers in the palace and government with the life of the citizens in the streets of Jerusalem where silver was as common as stones.
1 Kings 12:1-16 (especially vs. 4)
- 1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king.
- 2 So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt),
- 3 that they sent and called him. Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,
- 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”
- 5 So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.
- 6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?”
- 7 And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
- 8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.
- 9 And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”
- 10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist!
- 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”
- 12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.”
- 13 Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders had given him;
- 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!”
- 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
- 16 Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying:
- “What share have we in David?
- We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.To your tents, O Israel!Now, see to your own house, O David!”So Israel departed to their tents.
The response of King Rehoboam is not different from that of President Jonathan who recently told us that rather than lightening the burdensome service of our people, he is ready for mass revolt. And, by the grace of God, mass revolt is what he will get. What brought him to power is powerful enough to flush him out of power. The power brokers pushing him to talk tough will back off and sell out when they are face-to-face with the rage of the poor and the resentment of those excluded, deprived, and robbed. Nothing calls for the barking of a leader at the people, except he has, in the words of King Solomon, become a wicked ruler over poor people whose demeanour is likened to a roaring lion and a charging bear (Proverbs 28:15).
In closing, let me give a cautionary word to those who think they can continue afflicting the people at whose expense they maintain past and present profligacy. I am talking about those at the different tiers of government who impose unnecessary tax burdens on poor people. Those who don’t learn from history either repeat the blunders of the past or they become history themselves. King Rehoboam assumed that it was business as usual, so he sent his revenue collector Adoniram to impose punitive taxes on economically deprived people. They responded to him with stones and he died – 1 Kings 12:8 –
- Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem.
Let those relying on their ill-equipped, underpaid, and underfed police officers and political thugs remember the words of President J.F. Kennedy:
- A society that cannot help the many who are poor, cannot save the few that are rich.
Until this government downsizes, cuts down on its profligacy, and leads by example in modesty and moderation, the poor people of this country will not subsidise the excesses of the oil sector fat cats and the immorality of the self-centred and indulgent lifestyles of those in government. No leader can survive for long in power without peace. And let no one dream of peace without justice and equity.
The words of President Dwight Eisenhower are very apt and I finally close with them:
- Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.
May the soul of oil subsidy and those who desire to inflict us with further injury rest in perfect peace. Amen and Amen.