Self-sufficiency in petroleum products: Stakeholders knock government over failure to deliver
• 2020 Date Not Feasible, Perhaps 2023-Eromosele
• Ajibola Insists Continuous Fuel Importation Affecting Economy, Jobs
In diverse tones dripping with discontent and disappointment, stakeholders in oil and gas sector have expressed disgust over FG’s postponement of the country’s plan to be self-sufficient in petroleum from 2019 to 2020.
Last month, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu said that plans by government to fix the country’s moribund refineries and make them work in utmost capacity were postponed until 2020. Kachikwu had in 2017 vowed that Nigeria would become self-sufficient in refined petroleum products by 2019.
Some stakeholders, who deplored the deferred promise by the government insisted that the minister would earn public trust if he stayed with his promise to leave office should the country fail to become self-sufficient in refined petroleum products by 2019.
Former President/Chairman of Council, The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, who is also also the Dean, College of Postgraduate Studies, Caleb University, Prof. Segun Ajibola, insisted that the implications of Nigeria’s inability to become self-sufficient in refined petroleum products are becoming unbearable.
Ajibola pointed out that even though Kachikwu made the promise to leave office in good faith based on facts available to him then, he failed on due consideration of externalities that could make the 2019 target date for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products unachievable.
“Throwing in the towel will not change anything and to me it is unnecessary, but it teaches us a lesson that as public officers, we should not make a definite promise to deliver on target date when factors that determine such delivery are beyond the control of officers involved,” the don said.
Manging Director, Mudiame International Limited, Sunny Eromosele, who alleged that the minister was not allowed to do his job as expected, challenged Kachikwu to present documents and measures that have been taken to meet the 2019 deadline, as well as, the template with which the 2020 projections would be achieved.
Eromosele, whose firm renders services to major players in the sector, including Dangote Refinery said the government appears to be relying on the coming on stream of the private refinery, among other things, to shore up the country’s performance in the sector.
“We are all relying on Dangote Refinery. Where are the refineries that the government promised? Let them show us the stages. From my experience and involvement, the self-sufficiency is not until 2023.
“However I don’t think Kachikwu needs to resign because he is not responsible for the challenges,” he said.
For Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, the current state of the nation’s oil sector is unexpected, adding that Kachikwu’s promise is not different from the series of unfulfilled promises by the ruling party.
She said: “No body forced him when he made the promise, he was in the right frame of mind and he knew the implications in advance. People should just go and tender their resignation letters if promises are not kept. Kachickwu is a technocrat. He ought to resign.”
Hassan said there must be political will to totally overhaul of the nation’s oil sector through a state of emergency.
Founder and Principal Partner at Nextier, Patrick Okigbo III, is of the view that the promises given by the minister were an indication of his passion to ensure Nigeria achieves desired objectives in terms of refined petroleum products, while the Chief Executive Officer, International Energy Services (IES) Ltd, Dr. Diran Fawibe, lamented that the situation of the refineries became worse since talk on revamping them started.
He advised the government to look towards co-location of refineries and reduced cost, stating that these promise of revamping the facilities have remained elusive for the past 20 years.
Though he maintained that challenges that are obstructing the gesture could be beyond the minister, Fawibe noted that the failing promises would continue to create distrust in minds of citizens.
He added that the Minister would have to reach a personal conclusion if he wants to resign or remain in office since no one decided for him when he was offered the job.
And as far as President of the Nigerian Association for Energy Economics, Professor Wumi Iledare is concerned, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Petroleum Minster must be held accountable for the woes besetting the sector.
According to him, the premise upon which Kachikwu made his promise was possibly on the backdrop of a functional sector, where the Petroleum Industry Bill would be passed and the NNPC would operate as a commercial entity.
Iledare, who condemned the product swap arrangement and regulated market for petroleum products, stressed that continuous payment of subsidy through LNLG dividends and other resources remain illegal, particularly as the fund is not budgeted for.
The professor insisted that Kachikwu has not delivered on promises he made, therefore it would be honourable to shelve further promises or resign.
For the Chairman of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) joint committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Chika Onuegbu, the failure to fix the refineries may not be unconnected with plans to privatise or sell off outright.
According to him, for the refineries to function, a lot of work in terms of the turn around maintenance should have commenced in earnest, but that is not presently the case.
Onuegbu explained that government’s intention to privatise the refineries has already been clearly spelt out in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which President Muhammadu Buhari is yet assent to.
“If it is to sell the refineries, government would have to sell the refineries. Even the PIGB says the refineries should be sold. That is very clear that the refineries will have to be privatised to private investors,” he said.
Onuegbu while hoping that the 2020 new date is not politically motivated, advised the Federal Government to adopt the NLNG model to run the ailing refineries.
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