By Ugo Aliogo
The Committee for Human Right Development (CDHR) has expressed displeasure over the current hike in the price of petrol, attributing it to the failure of successive governments to build new refineries and put a decisive end to fuel importation to Nigeria.
The group in a statement signed and issued by the President, Malachy Ugwummadu, noted that the turn-around maintenance promised on the refineries has neither happened nor yielded any dividend in spite of the huge amount of money already spent and wasted on the exercise in the past.
He also noted that in 2013, the Jonathan administration borrowed as much as $1.6billion for the turn-around maintenance of the country’s refineries, adding that the entire exercise was marred by shoddy activities clearly lacking in transparency and accountability, “ultimately, the country was only able to refine about 80,000 barrels of crude oil per day as against the 445,000 bpd projected and promised.”
Ugwummadu in the statement explained that the numerous assurances given by the previous administration in justification of their ‘false promises and anti-people policy’ such as kilometers of road networks across the country, adequately equipped healthcare delivery facilities, improved and functional railway lines and mass transport vehicles have turned out to be all mere deception.
“Nigerians may have forgotten so soon that the pioneer chairman of the Subsidy Implementation Committee, the respectable Mr. Christopher Kolade, resigned his appointment when he realised the insincerity of purpose of the entire programme,” he added.
Ugwummadu further noted that the promise to construct new modular refineries to fundamentally tackle this crisis also got caught in the web of intrigues which have frustrated every initiative in the downstream sector, “thereby increasing the suspicions of the Nigerian people that these were mere ruse.”
He added: “You will also recall that Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, proudly announced earlier in the year that as much $1billion was already saved by the government by the partial removal of subsidy upon assumption of office. According to him, about the same amount of $1billion was also saved from Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) direct importation of the product, notwithstanding the apparent inefficiencies of the corporation to discharge this huge national assignment resulting in untold hardship to the people and economy.
“Needless to say that this would have informed the earlier reduction of the pump price of petrol from the N96 to N85.50k by the present administration. The use to which the approximately $2billion has been or will be put in concrete developmental projects is still a matter of speculation. Certainly, the option of revamping the ailing refineries or building new ones would have been a preferred priority. It is provocative to reckon that Nigeria presently refines just about 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day in Cote d’Ivoire which is not an oil producing nation.
“Similarly, Kachukwu acting on behalf of the President Buhari, the substantive Minister of Petroleum, unilaterally announced the increase in price of petrol in total disregard of S.7(a) of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (Establishment) CTC) Act Cap 465 Register of the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1960 – 2010) which expressly vests the agency with the responsibility to “determine the pricing policy of petroleum products in.”