NIGERIAN Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, says the fuel hike from N86.5 per litre to N145 can be traced to the scarcity of dollars occasioned by the depletion of the foreign reserve.
The Vice-President said this at a book presentation of a book titled, ‘Anatomy of Corruption in Nigeria’ which was authored by legal luminary, Yusuf Ali (SAN), in Abuja on Tuesday.
Osinbajo added that it was corruption that made it impossible for Nigeria to build or maintain refineries over the years which has forced the nation to be import-dependent.
He said, “If you have no foreign currency, you have to import fuel. All of our refined petrol today is imported. A lot of problems that with the refineries are corruption related issues. If we repair our refineries today, we will still only be able to refine 40 per cent of our petroleum so we still need to import
“But the truth is that in the absence of foreign exchange, when you have to import your refined petroleum, what are you left with? I think it is important that when we look at corruption and its deleterious consequences, we must relate it directly to what we are experiencing all the time.”
Osinbajo said President Muhammadu Buhari fought against increasing pump price for several months but had to finally bow to pressure due to the economic reality.
He said the foreign reserve currently stands at about $27bn. He said if the $15bn stolen in the dubious arms deal had been available today, there would have been more dollars in the country and the value of the naira would have been protected.
Osinbajo said, “All through the period when Nigeria was earning over a $100-$115 from the proceeds of oil for a period of almost five years, the external reserves of Nigeria remained much the same. It did not increase at all despite the very high earnings.
“We know also that today we are investigating cases which show that over $15bn was lost in one type of contract alone. We are not talking of oil contracts but security related contracts. We haven’t talked at all about the several billions in the oil contracts.
“When you consider that Nigeria’s foreign reserves stands today at $27bn and you are investigating $15bn from one sector alone, that is over half of the entire reserves of a country.”
The Vice-President urged all Nigerians to continue to support Buhari in the fight against corruption. He dismissed claims that the corruption war was aimed at people of a particular tribe or religion.