Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Nigeria seeks to extend fuel subsidy program

The Nigerian government had previously planned to phase out the gasoline subsidy program, calling it "unsustainable." Despite being Africa's main oil exporter, the country relies on importing petroleum products.

The Nigerian government on Tuesday said it intended to extend a costly fuel subsidy program, in a reversal of policy for the oil-rich African country.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva told reporters that the government "was not removing subsidies" after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
What do we know so far?

The program, known as the Premium Motor Spirit subsidy, artificially keeps everyday gas prices low for Nigerian consumers.

The government has previously sought to phase out the program by this summer, with Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed calling it "unsustainable." She said the program cost $7 billion (€6.2 billion) a year in revenue. According to research by Eurasia Group, Nigeria's government spent more on subsidizing fuel at the pumps between January and August 2021 than it did on its entire health or education budgets in 2020.

In 2021, Ahmed proposed replacing the program with an initiative to give 5,000 naira (€10.70, $12) directly to the poorest Nigerian families instead of providing cheaper fuel for all.

Yet any attempt to end the program has been met with fierce opposition from labor unions and working-class Nigerians. Protests against the potential phaseout of the program were expected on Thursday.

Unions have also urged the government to expedite work on upgrading Nigeria's four major oil refineries, with the oil-rich country currently dependent on foreign imports of refined petroleum products.

Ahmed has acknowledged that cutting the program at this time could put an additional financial burden on Nigerians.

"It's become clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation and also the removal of subsidies would further worsen the situation and thereby imposing more difficulties on the citizens," Ahmed told Nigerian senators earlier this week.
Subsidy program phaseout could influence upcoming election

Cutting the subsidy program could exacerbate tensions ahead of Nigeria's presidential election in February 2023, with Nigerians voting to replace incumbent President Buhari.

Previous President Goodluck Jonathan also toyed with ending the costly policy, only to back down when facing public and military protests.

Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer on the African continent. Oil is a major engine of the Nigerian economy, with the industry also at the center of corruption scandals in recent years. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Video - Nigerians react to lifting of Govt’ ban on Twitter


The Nigerian government on Wednesday lifted the ban on Twitter after the social media company agreed to conditions, including opening a local office. The news came as a welcome relief to Nigerian users of the social media platform, who had been locked out for close to seven months. From the ability to use the platform to air one's views to promoting local businesses, Nigerians from all walks of life had mixed reactions to the lifting of the ban.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Video - The Fall of the World's Flashiest Scammer Hushpuppi

Ramon Abbas perfected a simple internet scam that helped him launder millions of dollars, riches he shamelessly flaunted on Instagram. Better known as @Hushpuppi, the young Nigerian became a fixture among the global elite as fashion houses showered him with gifts. But his fame would ultimately be his downfall.

Related stories: Video - Joe Rogan and Zuby talk about scammers from Nigeria

Nigeria suspends 'Hushpuppi-linked' police officer Abba Kyari 





Gunmen kill more than 50 in Nigeria's northwest, residents say

Dozens of gunmen on motorbikes ransacked a village and killed more than 50 people in the latest violence in northwest Nigeria, residents said on Sunday.

Gangs have been terrorising areas of the northwest in recent years, forcing thousands to flee and gaining global notoriety through mass kidnappings at schools for ransom.

Local elder Abdullahi Karman Unashi told Reuters that the men entered Dankade village in Kebbi state on Friday night and exchanged gunfire with soldiers and policemen.

Security forces were forced to retreat, leaving the attackers to burn shops and grain silos and take cattle into the early hours of Saturday, he said.

"They killed two soldiers and one police officer and 50 villagers. (They) kidnapped the community leader of Dankade and many villagers, mostly women and children," Karman said.

It came a week after armed men killed 200 people in the nearby state of Zamfara.

Didzi Umar Bunu, son of the abducted community leader, said the gunmen had returned early on Sunday and torched more houses.

"They have not called or made any ransom demand. Dankade village is littered with dead bodies," he said on the phone.

Nafiu Abubakar, police spokesperson for Kebbi, did not respond to calls and messages to his phone.

Kebbi shares a border with Zamfara, where the government in September started a military offensive and imposed a telecoms blackout to rid the state of gangs it calls terrorists.

Violent crime has compounded the challenges in northern states, which are typically poorer than in the south.

President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement that the military had started a major military operation in Niger state, next to Kebbi, to clear bandits and Boko Haram insurgents running from a government offensive.

By Garba Muhammad