The need for the federal government to take steps towards deregulation the oil and gas industry as well as end the controversial fuel subsidy resonated yesterday at the Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition in Abuja.
They also commended the National Assembly for passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and advised the federal government to reconsider its passage.
Managing Director of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu, declared that Nigeria spent $5 billion on fuel subsidy last year.
The sum, he said represented funds that could have been used to finance other critical infrastructure needed by vast majority of the populace. Therefore, he advocated that all stakeholders must support the deregulation of the oil and gas sector to engender growth.
Speaking at the conference, Tinubu said stakeholders in the petroleum industry should rise up and discourage the practice.
According to him, other critical sectors of the economy, such as education and health among others, were in need of funding, adding that such amount expended on subsidy should have been directed to other critical sectors or towards infrastructure development.
“The government has chosen to effectively subsidise the price as a social palliative. Not that I support it, but we spent $5 billion last year on subsidy, which was even more than what we spent on education and housing combined.
“At a population growth rate of three per cent, the question is what is the best – to invest in infrastructure or consumption? There is a bug debate that has to be made around this and as stakeholders we absolutely need to champion that debate with the federal government.
“The politicians want this to continue at all cost, but there is long-term damage we are doing to our country and industry. “We need to ensure that this subsidies are altered and the downstream sector needs to be commercialised, the refineries need to function and the pipelines need to function. There is no logic in is transporting our products by the road which is extremely expensive.”
Tinubu said there was need to discontinue the current consumption-based government spending.
He hailed the recent appointment of Mr. Mele Kyari as the new Group Managing Director of the NNPC, describing him as an incredible and astute technocrat.