‘We Should Blame Corruption In Oil Sector For Fuel Scarcity’
Managing Director of IAR Nigeria Limited, Apapa, Lagos, Alhaji Ismail Adetola Lawal spoke on the lingering fuel scarcity in the country and the way forward.
What do you think is responsible for the scarcity of fuel in the country? The scarcity of fuel in the country is because of the corruption in the oil sector.
Corruption is one of the things the cabals who initiated this importation of fuel into the country brought along with it. Normally, if we have the refinery working and the government deregulates or break the monopoly of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), we will not be having this problem of fuel scarcity.
Let them build new refineries. People use the importation of fuel to siphon money out of the country and to cause scarcity of fuel. Those are the leakages.
The situation is very precarious in our country. The value of the Naira has gone down. Before N150 to a dollar at a point it went to N250 to a dollar. Petroleum was being stolen and taken to stock market to sell. It has never happened in this country. This led to the leakages in the economy. There were some 450 thousand barrels, which the government gave to NNPC for refineries.
They say of the 450 thousand barrels, 80 percent of were sold by the NNPC and the revenue did not come back to the government. There is need for you journalists to investigate how many barrels of oil the government gave to the NNPC and what did they do with it? The problem we are having in the oil sector is part of the leadership crisis.
Saudi Arabia, at the time when there was oil boom, they saved for the raining day. If there was going to be any global crisis for a long time, they can still manage themselves. But in Nigeria, we wasted all the earnings from oil during the oil boom. We did not even make a saving from oil.
What is the way forward? If we have the right leaders at the helm of affairs, all the problems we are going through will be over. If there is sincerity and honesty of purpose we will not be going through the crisis in the oil sector. The people in government allocate contracts to themselves. Nobody thinks of the masses any more.
The government ought to know that we cannot continue to run a monolithic economy. We need to diversify the economy into agriculture. We need to develop agro-allied industries.
We cannot continue to rely on oil. In the early 50s, they did not have oil in the western region during the time of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. We exported cocoa, rubber, palm kernels and we were at peace with ourselves. What Awolowo did at that time was to make sure most of our earnings were invested.
They invested the revenue from agriculture judiciously. From there, they built the western region. The problem started when they discovered oil in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State.
That was when the problem started when some very egocentric Nigerians decided to use that wealth to hold Nigerians into ransom. Are you expecting a paradigm shift in the next political dispensation? Every one of us has been anticipating for change and the change has come. The situation of the economy was very critical. There was a divine intervention in the last presidential election.
Don’t look at the election as a physical exercise. The changes are just starting in the government. When the President-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) was the Head of State, he was trying to inject discipline into the system. One thing you have to commend Buhari for is his perseverance.
This man has a divine assignment for this country. He is not coming for his own sake. He is very decent. He has no mansions like even some of the state governors. Buhari is going to take Nigeria to the promise land.
We only have to support him. He is militarily, physically and spiritually fit to transform Nigeria. Whether they like it or not there must be a handover.
Whether it is going to be smooth or it is going to be rough. We are already inside the plane and when you are inside the plane and you are in the air.
You can run into turbulence, or have stability in the air, that is the situation we are now. We don’t have to look back. But somebody at this point in time can no longer take us for a ride.