Editor's note: Thomas Olaleye Ogungbangbe, the chief executive officer of CITA fueling company, is a stakeholder in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry. In this interview with Legit.ng, he bares his mind on the controversy surrounding fuel subsidies, among other issues.
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As a stakeholder in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, Ogungbangbe said that Nigerians should understand why there should be a subsidy on fuel as proposed by the federal government.
Why there must be a removal of fuel subsidy
First of all, why should there be a subsidy on fuel? We need to first understand why there should be a subsidy on it. If you talk about the way a human being would live - feeding, housing, movement, clothing, what is the next? Those are the needs. Basic psychological needs.
Without digressing, I support the removal of subsidies. An average person on the street may not understand, they may feel that it is going to make life tougher, yes in the immediate but strategically down the line, it is better for everybody.
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Nigeria is an oil-producing country yet citizens buy it at an exorbitant price. Increase in the Aviation Fuel has affected the price of flights, domestic and international. What do you think the government is yet to do?
I don’t know what they need to do yet, but as much as I feel the government is doing its best, it also takes the understanding of the citizens.
For example, if you look at countries like Iran, Qatar, or Kuwait, citizens buy fuel at prices equivalent to #40, right? But it is because they have refineries. For us, if we have refineries why do we need to subsidize what we have?
It is what we don’t have that we subsidise, so the subsidy means we don’t have it which is the truth. We have had four refineries and none is working. Tax is taken from you on the product that is gotten for instance at #700. You got the product at #700 from external suppliers and you paid them in dollars, and then you sell it at #169, who is deceiving who? Why do you need to subsidise what you have?
As the CEO of CITA, one of the leading companies in Aviation in West and Central Africa, he said he ventured into politics because politics runs in his vein.
"We are all politicians, the same way we are all marketers. In 1989, I was the speaker of the Microbiology Students Association of my school and in 1989/90. I become the pioneer president of the Nigerian Students Association of Microbiology at the University of Ilorin.
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"It is okay to say I have been a part of public and cooperate governance all my life, so it is not like a function of whether you meet the wealth or riches on the way; it is about who you are.
"I declared my intention on the 15th of May, 2005, to contest and I was the major sponsor of both Obokun and Oriade local government areas in the entire federal constituency since then from 2005/6 to 2007.
Speaking on how he started his political career, he noted:
"I started from AD (Alliance for Democracy) which metamorphosised into AC (Action Congress), ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria), and now APC (All Progressives Congress). The election was conducted and I won square and fair. Between Obokun and Oriade we have 23 wards and are five contested and I won 11 wards without any controversy.
"I mean, if you have 5 contestants and one person won 11 out of 23, I became 2nd in 3 wards, that is something. I won some candidates in their own words, which should be saying something too."
"So be as it may, the party and of the party in their wisdom felt that somebody else should be fielded, so they know the indices than some of us. So they fielded somebody who they felt could represent the party better than some of us."
The party's decision is supreme
On the decision of the aspirants to challenge the decision of the party in court, Ogungbangbe, noted that the party's decision is always supreme
"You and I should understand that the party’s decision is supreme over all contestants if they felt there’s a need to. I didn’t fight the party so there was no way I could go to the court and say whatever. For me it’s a simple thing, I have asked that I want to represent you and you said that you don’t want me, so what’s the fight in that one? It’s your loss especially if I know what I want to deliver.
How followers felt about my decision not to challenge the party's leadership
"Everybody who is in the country never won an election; I won. But I didn’t go to any court to contest anything because you are actually going there to serve the people, so what do you go to court to do?
"You said you wanted to serve and some people said no, the people you want to serve themselves could see that you wanted to but were barred by some elements. What is the issue about going to court?
Speaking on the running of the Ijesa North federal constituency in terms of legislation and representation, Ogungbangbe lauded the lawmaker representing the area, Oluwole Oke.
"Well, I will like to say that if you look at the representation of Oluwole Oke, comparatively to other federal constituencies in the state, he has done very well. I am not saying that is the best we could have.
"I am merely saying if we compare it to other federal constituencies he has done well. But of course, we have the desire to have more, and that is why some of us come out to build on the infrastructure that he has set in place.
"He has done well, and as such, he needs to be promoted, he should not by now be aspiring for the House of Representatives by now, he should go for senate and governorship."
On an alleged plan to dump the party, he stated:
"I am not dumping the party and I can tell you that there has been pressure. We all know political issues. And pressure. But if you are playing politics of ideology, then you stick to the idea."
Why I wanted to go to the House of Representatives
Ogungbangbe further stressed:
"Like I mentioned, about 15 years ago was the first time. And the launch of the House of Representatives, and you also know there are some unwritten rules between Ife and Ijesa in the Senate. Then there’s the same between Obokun and Oriade. We need to respect the unwritten rule and hold on to what it is.
"Even as a private entrepreneur, there’s no meeting that I go for that I have to sit at the same table with the members of the House of Representatives, it has always been the members of the Senate. As it is said, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a step."
Why APC will win the 2023 general election
He said he expected victory for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that whatever is happening to Nigeria at the moment is happening to the whole world.
According to him:
"As much as we may be witnessing a lot in Nigeria. Nigeria is still strong because an average person in Nigeria can sustain one or two dollars every day. That is between #800- #1,500. That doesn’t work in the US.
"We still may not understand that we have a country we need to make work and that is what is bringing most of us to politics because, before the economy, the political direction comes before the economic direction. It is politics that set the tone for the economy."
Do you believe in the candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu or you are supporting him because of party loyalty?
"I will tell you categorically that I believe in the candidature of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I believe he stands head and shoulders above any contestant. I also believe he has what it takes to engage in ideological concern and significance. His experience in the past, even in Lagos which happen to be….
"In the Nigerian economy. If he assumes that in the last 20-22 years. Nobody is complaining, comparatively, we believe Lagos is the best in Nigeria, and he can do that one-third why won’t we believe that he can do it? I actually believe that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the best candidate that can take Nigeria to the next level."
How would you rate Muhammadu Buhari's administration?
Ogungbangbe stressed further:
"It is not about being rich, affluence or anything, people who are at the top were also affected. But like I mentioned to you, Buhari is not a Saint and if you have brought someone else to Buhari’s place at the time he did, maybe we would have had worse results. So if I will rate him on 10 I will give him 5 over 10."
Do you foresee fuel scarcity in the coming months in the Aviation industry?
The aviation expert said:
"Actually, I’m the outgoing chairman of the All Aviation Fuel Marketers Association of Nigeria and you cannot claim to have what you don’t have. If I am to answer your question, I will yes, there will be fuel scarcity because we don’t produce. We have the raw materials but we don’t produce so we should expect fuel scarcity from time to time.
Aviation Fuel scarcity caused by the sharp increase in price?
He said the issue of the availability of Aviation Fuel, even any product, is about the law of demand and supply, saying, "we don’t produce if we want anything we have to open a letter of credit and pay, we pay in dollars and dollars are not available, it’s exchanged for #800. For us to forestall or ensure that we don’t have scarcity means that government that is involved has to take its hands off it."
Ogungbangbe further stated:
"Maybe leave it in the hands of the private sector. This product was deregulated by President Olusegun Obasanjo and until 2017, this government dipped its hands into it we never had fuel scarcity. Fuel scarcity didn’t come until the government started participating in it.
"For example, I source for my own dollar from the market at 800 and the government says their own is 400, how do you expect me to import and the government import when they like, then I will go and sell mine at 700 when the government is selling at half price. So they are the ones spoiling the market."
NNPC Reveals Increase of Petrol by 264.1m Litres in One Week As NNPC Considers N400 per Litre Pump Price
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s stock of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, increased significantly following the return of queues in Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger and some other northern states.
It was reported that industry data seen over the weekend indicated that the total PMS stock of NNPC as at November 11, 2022, was 2,111,721,150(2.11 billion) litres.
This is a 264.1 million increase when compared to 1,847,558,138(1.8bn) petrol stock on the 4th of November 2022.