The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is claiming that its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has worked out a pricing template that will immediately crash the pump price of fuel in the country. It accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of diverting “a hidden N58” for every N145 paid for a liter of fuel.
What exactly is the PDP saying?: The party’s statement was signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Thursday. It accused the current administration of failing to account for the “over N1.4 trillion allegedly siphoned through sleazy oil subsidy deals… over N3.49 trillion stolen under the hidden N58 per liter of fuel on over 50 million daily domestic consumption estimated in the last three years.”
The most shocking part of the statement was the PDP’s claim that its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has worked out a pricing template that will crash the price of fuel. It said it is in high level talks with top international players in the oil and gas industry based on which it has found that the “appropriate pump price of fuel in the Nigerian market under the current subsidy regime of the Buhari presidency should be within the border of N87 to N90 per liter as against the N145 currently being charged.”
“Atiku Abubakar has already worked out a blueprint that will end sleazes, ensure appropriate pricing template and free resources to guarantee availability of product on a national pricing regime,” the PDP said.
This smells like a scam, and it appears that the PDP is copying from the APC’s 2015 playbook, where the then-opposition party made several bogus claims and unsubstantiated allegations in order to get into power. For one, the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has been on record several times claiming that he supports privatisation and liberalisation of the oil sector. At a speech last year delivered at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Atiku said, “I know for a fact that if you privatise all the enterprises that government unnecessarily controls such as the NNPC, NRC, you will reduce the mad scramble for control of federal power and patronage positions in those organizations… Privatisation and liberalisation create wealth and opportunity with little regard to where you come from.”
How did he suddenly move from that position to now deciding to work out a “pricing template” that will “crash” the pump price of fuel?
The PDP also has a responsibility to show Nigerians the supposed blueprint it has developed. Simply saying that it will end sleaze and automatically crash the price of fuel does not cut it – the party could not do that magic in its 16 years in power. There is no evidence that it has suddenly acquired those abilities in less than four years since it lost the presidency. Unless, of course, it is proposing an even larger subsidy regime when it gets into power. If that is the case, then it has to come clean. But releasing bogus claims like this without backing it up with data is a no-no.