Buhari’s Oil Sector Reforms Courageous, Result-oriented, Says APC Deputy Spokesman

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Yekini Nabena has described the policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in the country as courageous and result-oriented.

He said that some of the initiatives introduced by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has greatly helped in ensuring relative stability in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry and curtailed the hiccups usually witnessed in the fuel supply and distribution.

The former acting spokesman of the APC, who spoke in an interview at the weekend, warned against playing politics with the current reforms in the oil sector.

He said that the courageous move by the current administration to introduce a new price regime for petrol in the country has led to the technical liberalisation of petrol price.

“The administration’s efforts to sanitise and reform the oil sector should be supported by all well-meaning Nigerians. It is important that we don’t succumb to the temptation to play politics with the reforms in view of the strides that have been achieved so far,” he said.

Regarding the probe of the $3.5 billion subsidy fund by the Senate, the party chieftain said from his observation of the actual state of things, the federal government is operating a fund domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that supports fuel supply stability but that the NNPC has not independently spent a dime of the fund.

Nabena said that in a bid to stem petroleum product supply hiccups, the corporation had initiated a revolving National Fuel Support Fund of $1.05 billion, being literally the sole importer and supplier of products in the country.

“The Fund has been jointly managed by the NNPC, CBN, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OGF), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF),” he said.

On the gains of President Buhari-led administration’s reforms in the oil and gas sector, Nabena said the positive effects of the oil sector reforms have been instant and visible, adding that fuel shortages and the resultant queues which were a recurrent issue in the sector due to “our limited refining base are now in the past”.

“In a general appraisal of the oil sector reforms undertaken by the President Buhari administration, an often downplayed achievement is the fact that in a long time Nigerians no longer have to waste valuable man hours queuing for fuel on account of scarcities.

“In a courageous move by the current administration, a new price regime for petrol was introduced in the country and has led to the technical liberalisation of petrol price. The move is set to reposition the country’s downstream oil sector and in particular ensure that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) becomes a fully run commercial entity,” he said.

On the $3.5 billion subsidy fund being probed by the Senate, Nabena said: “The achievements of the oil sector reforms brings to the fore erroneous insinuations of a $3.5 billion subsidy fund allegedly in the NNPC’s custody which the Senate has reportedly resolved to probe.

“In NNPC’s bid to stem petroleum product supply hiccups, the corporation initiated a revolving National Fuel Support Fund of $1.05 billion, since the corporation is literally the sole importer and supplier of products in the country.

“The Fund has been domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ever since. NNPC has not independently spent a dime of the fund which is to ensure stability in the petroleum products supply in the country.”