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The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, has advised the federal government, including stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, to debate and share pragmatic and realistic initiatives on how to mitigate the impact of pump price increases on Nigerians which came as an aftermath of a fully deregulated downstream sector.
This was disclosed by Chairman MOMAN, Adetunji Oyebanji during a media briefing with journalists on Thursday. Oyebanji who spoke on the topic ‘After Deregulation, What Next?’, said the need to implement policies to make life easier became necessary because, with a fully deregulated downstream industry, the natural fear and anticipation of Nigerians is the increase in the price of transportation, food items and the attendant economic hardships.
According to him, solutions to these challenges can only emanate from a collective resolve by all stakeholders to face up to these challenges together.
“We must as a nation debate and share pragmatic and realistically initiatives to mitigate the impact of a pump price increase which could follow a fully deregulated downstream.
“We stand with Nigeria and Nigerians through this difficult time and support the Federal Government’s promise to pass the PIB this year and fully deregulate the petroleum downstream sector. The benefit of a liberalised downstream is the most visible means of growing the economy in the medium to long term”.
He said Nigeria can become the refining hub of West and Central Africa and eventually the whole of Africa if everyone sticks to this path of investing in new refineries, adopting a cost optimisation initiative, building an environment that promotes competition and creates a sustainable petroleum sector. These actions he said, would lead to increased employment, reduced poverty and reduced social inequity.
“We must take advantage of the opportunities brought by the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, AfCFTA and fully benefit from our barrels of crude, getting the maximum value it can bring Nigeria”, he said.
While giving a deeper insight on cost reduction, he said anyone involved in the fuel supply chain, either as operators or regulators must demonstrate cost optimisation in every practical and public way possible.
“In line with the recently launched Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimization Program, NUCOP, efforts must be made to reduce costs of production, administration and governance throughout the petroleum value chain in the Nigerian petroleum sector, (particularly) the downstream, in order to promote efficiency and competitiveness within the industry and ensure value creation for all consumers”.
However, beyond the NUCOP initiative being limited to the petroleum industry, he said the Association believes it is a notion that should be applied to the Nigerian landscape, particularly in the area of governance and also called for a reduction in cost of governance. He also urged government to take local refining of crude oil as a matter of urgency.
“As promised by the government, a visible and measured reduction in the cost of governance throughout the polity would bring about savings which can be directed toward improving the livelihood of the average Nigerian. This cost optimization initiative would demonstrate to Nigerians the good faith of the decision makers in both the public and private sectors”.
“Despite being a country blessed with petroleum resources, we still import refined products. Even though refining would not start in Nigeria immediately, as a result of a whole catalogue of diverse and varied reasons which will not be listed here today, it is necessary that we as a Country have some clarity as to when optimal internal refining capacity will return to Nigeria. We need to collectively and as a nation, track the progress of work at all the new refineries under construction across the Country to ensure they are delivered timely, efficiently and sustainably. If need be, private investment should be brought in to facilitate the rehabilitation and upgrade of the NNPC refineries for the efficient growth of Nigeria’s internal refining capacity and to ensure energy sufficiency for the Country”, he said.
In conclusion, the Association called for a national discourse among all stakeholders including government, labour, civil society organisations, the organised private sector and operators, not on the merits or demerits of petrol subsidy removal, but on the initiatives that can be taken to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on the most vulnerable in the society.