The Center for Global Peace Initiative [CGPI], a Lagos based NGO, has commended President Muhammad Buhari for taking bold step towards removing subsidy on petrol, which has become a drain piple on the nation’s income.
The centre gave the commendation in a press statement, signed by its Director, Yekinni A. Shakiru, and made available to The Renaissance weekend in Lagos.
“We are not unmindful of the potential of this move to cause additional hardship on Nigerians, especially in the meantime, yet this is a ‘surgery’ that is necessary to stem the tide of graft in the name of subsidy for products diverted to neighboring countries and the billions of naira, which went down the drain in the last regime of GEJ.
“However, much as we salute this bold step, it is expedient that the government is engaged constructively and encouraged to go the full hog if it is to be taken seriously in its determined to deregulate the entire downstream sector of the oil industry.
“We are no novice to understand the fact that the N145/liter announced by the government is based purely on projected exchange rate of N250 to 1$ which may well shoot above that as hinted by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) that the product may sell for around N200 or more.
“Given this scenario, the labor movement has reacted rejecting the announcement. Our belief however is that the kind of engagement needed now is not down-tooling or embarking on protest, but to propel governmental action in the directions that protect the people from unconscionable exploitation.
“The government needs to step up its regulatory and supervisory role of ensuring that the procedures for participation in that sector of the economy now reduced to importation of refined products are neither shrouded in secrecy (known only to a few individuals) nor encumbered so as to deter and frustrate potential new entrants.
“To ensure that substandard variants of the product are not brought to litter the market with their attendant health and safety hazards.
“This is the time to overhaul the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Plant Quarantine and all other agencies germane to ensuring standard and safety that have gone asleep or dormant,” CGPI stated.
It advised the government to ensure that the ‘clearing’ time needed to evacuate the product is reduced drastically by removing bottle necks and by providing additional infrastructure at the ports of landing.
“Improved infrastructure at our ports coupled with a motivated and disciplined workforce would pluck out demurrage as additional cost that the citizens would have to bear.
“It is also necessary that the ports of entry (for this as well as other goods) are multiplied and the access roads are worked upon to improve efficient and timely evacuation.
“More importantly we implore the government to revisit the issue of refinery licenses given to certain individuals and find a way to propel oil-block operators who only export crude to consider owning refineries (either singly or jointly) as incentives for continuous possession or future consideration for such lucrative business,” the statement read in part.
The centre also spoke on the need to encourage the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to resume production in order to cushion the effect of the new price pending the final unbundling of the corporation.
“We also urge a fast tracking of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) even if in piece meals as promised by the Vice President especially those areas that could alleviate both the intended and un-intended fall outs of the new price regime.
“We hold firmly the belief that the current administration meant well for Nigerians, but it is incapacitated by both paucity of funds for development and the determination of so called cabal to retain their ‘privileges’ even if Nigerians are bled to the marrow.
“This however is the time to be clear headed, see even in the midst of our cries and refrain from misdirecting our collective anger against a government which finds itself on the terrible horn of a destructive dilemma like its citizens.
“This is why the government on its part needs to brace up itself, intervene to sanitize business environments and provide the necessary infrastructure and frameworks that will drive down the huge cost of doing business in Nigeria, not just for the oil businessmen, but for the generality of Nigerians.
“The world has gone fully capitalist in its economic orientation, only a pro-people, proactive and benevolent government can cushion the consequences of a rapacious corporatocracy now ravaging the world and pillaging its resources for personal wealth.
“The strategy for now would be to partner with government and encourage it to deliver on its moderating role. And this must be the basis for assessing the success or failure of any government,” the CGPI stated.