President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria’s domestic fuel consumption had dropped by more than 30 per cent since the closure of the border with neighbouring countries, suggesting that there had been much leakage across the frontiers.
Buhari, who is Nigeria’s substantive oil minister, made the disclosure when he received a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum in his country home in Daura, Katsina State.
Before the border closure, Nigeria’s daily fuel consumption was estimated at 61million litres a day, up from 53million recorded in 2018 by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
PPPRA said it noticed a consumption drop to 50.22 litres between August, when the border closure went into effect and 8 September.
But in figures for November, published by the PPPRA, it gave the average daily consumption up till 29 November as 55.8million and diesel 13.9million, creating doubts whether President Buhari had been fed with wrong figures.
Consumption drop, according to PPPRA, from the height of 61million litres to 55.8m litres is about nine percent, far from the over 30 per cent savings Buhari claimed.
Between 2016 and 2018, a period of three years, Nigerians consumed an average of 51 million litres of petrol every day. PPPRA said the consumption figure which was based on its daily petroleum products truck-out saw an increase from 50 million litres in 2016 to 53 million in 2018.
President Buhari did not supply any figure of his own, but he said the drop in petroleum consumption is one of the reasons why he would not give any date for the reopening of the land borders.
He said that the closure would remain until the situation improved.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesperson , in a statement in Abuja on Monday said the president made the disclosure when he received a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum in his country home in Daura, Katsina State.
Buhari said his administration’s directive on the border closure was meant to curb smuggling, especially rice, and that so far, the closures had saved the country huge sums on import bills.
He said his administration was betting on same measures to rekindle the country’s agricultural rebirth.
The president lauded actions taken by the President of Niger Republic, Muhammadou Youssoufou, including the dismissal of officials and a ban on use of the country as a dumping ground for Nigeria-bound smuggled goods.
Buhari noted that the measures taken by Niger were helpful and supportive to Nigeria’s goals.
He acknowledged the hardship of border communities following the ban on sale of fuel at stations 20km to the border, a restriction that also saw to the closure of all fuel stations in his native home, Daura.
”Farmers must be protected, dishonesty is deep rooted in the country. Otherwise the border closure would not have been warranted,” he said.
He said the restriction was a temporary measure as the Nigerian Customs Service needed to ascertain outlets involved in real sale of products and those being used for smuggling.
Buhari told the delegation that he intended forging ahead with poverty alleviation schemes and the agricultural and livestock reforms started by the administration in the first term, since the election was behind him and a government now in place.
He explained that the reforms, especially those relating to the settlement of livestock farmers would take time to accomplish.
He said that his deliberate choice of tested farmers as his past and current ministers of agriculture was informed by the need to carry his vision through.
Earlier in his remark, the representative of the Chairman of the Elders Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa, commended the achievements of the President and Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina State in curbing the menace of bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers.
He, however, drew a long list of requests which included a special intervention fund to assist victims of attacks, completion of the 10 megawatts wind power project in the state, setting up of a North-West Development Commission and setting up of Ruga farm settlements.
According to him, farm settlements are urgently needed by herders.
The Elders Forum also made a case for numerous infrastructure projects for the state, as well as for keener Federal Government’s scrutiny of benefits of social investment schemes.
The president promised to look into their requests.
The President added that his constituency was the whole country, and expressed his determination to be fair to all, including those that voted him into office and those that did not.