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Expert seeks convocation of national dialogue on deregulation policy


• Expert seeks convocation of national dialogue on deregulation policy
Senior Partner, Commercial Contracts and Energy at the Primera Africa Legal, Israel Aye has said that it is high time the Federal Government initiated an all-encompassing national dialogue on deregulation policy and the management of the nation’s natural resources. 
Aye argued that the episodic dialogue on deregulation with the organised labour whenever the pump price of petrol goes up was archaic and unproductive. 
His words: “Government seems not engaging the Nigerian people enough. Government needs to engage a bit more with the Nigerian public. For example, during the debate on the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the late 80s, the government packaged it in such a way that Nigerians had their say but the government had its way. Either way, the Nigerian public was engaged as a unit. 


“A national dialogue on deregulation policy, the management of oil industry and national resources as encapsulated in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is what is urgently needed. Such conversation would not be based on thematic. Most times, the government engages in highly-sophisticated technical terms and languages that do not resonate with the people. Every generation that discovers a natural resource manages it as a trustee for the next generation. How would this generation explain to our children and children yet unborn that we wasted this natural resource? It will be a shame if we are speechless when the time comes to give a report card to our children on how we mismanaged the oil and gas resources our land is endowed with.”
Aye insisted that the poorest of the poor are not the major beneficiaries of the subsidy regime, noting that “the subsidy regime goes to a few pockets. It does not improve the lives of the average Nigerians in any substantial way. Average Nigerians will feel the presence of the government more in quality healthcare, education, good roads, stable power supply and availability of infrastructure. Currently, none of these exist. It shows clearly that the route we have been taking in the last 60 years is not a productive and beneficial one. Why are we so hesitant in not wanting to change it? We must put organised labour in perspective. Labour represents a small percentage of Nigerians. But that is fine because they have a platform, and they are using it to the full advantage of their members.”
He was quick to caution the Federal Government against sloppy transition as the country moves into a full deregulation regime. 
“Everywhere in the world, transition periods are managed very well. But in Nigeria, anything can happen during such a period. None of the major stakeholders I know has advocated sacking of people through selling off the refineries. The process must be carefully crafted so that workers are not stranded because that will create a social disorder that will likely damage the implementation process,” he stated.
He maintained that the strong industries that emerged after the liberalisation of telecommunication and aviation would be replicated when the downstream is eventually deregulated.  


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