Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former Minister of State for Works and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is yet to fulfill its campaign promise that it would reduce the price of Premium Motor Spirit from N86 to N50.
Ogiemwonyi, who exonerated Buhari from the price increase, blamed the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency for the development.
He said it was high time the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission thought of discouraging importation of the product.
According to him, the only way forward was for the NNPC to start refining the product locally.
He told Leadership that, “There are two issues here, importation of products and local production of products. First the issue of product importation .
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) did a template on this I remember as Group Executive Director in NNPC, my position on this was we should look at the various components that constitute the landing price. I felt there were lots of redundancies between NNPC and NPA.
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“It’s when we remove these areas of redundancies including high demurrage before we can achieve actual landing cost. Generally, we should also look for ways to eliminate corruption in this sector, Secondly, why are we not able to refine locally. I think we should shift our emphasis to how we can start refining in Nigeria.
“It is a shame that we are still talking of product importation after several years of Oil production in Nigeria. Why are we still importing products? I know somebody will tell me oh, it takes some minimum of two years, three years, four years to have a refinery, what prevent us from having modular refineries that at least can be operational under two years. This is the best time for NNPC to quickly think of supporting local refineries not just one, four, five, six local refineries in Nigeria.
“Is it not a shame to us that we are hearing now that Nigeria wants to start importing products from Niger Republic. It is a shame. Again it’s policy somersault, we don’t have long term plans, we have been inconsistent, we were always planning for two years, the Minister will plan for just two years and once that man leaves, the next man comes with a different plan.
“For example Algerians plan for ten years; whether there is a new minister or new chief executive or a new GMD, the rolling plan remains the rolling plan but it is only here in Nigeria once we change the CEO the next man coming will bring his own agenda, that is what they call the policy somersault; that is what is causing our woes. DPR gave approval to about sixteen refineries, only Dangote is on it now and we pray he succeeds.”
In recent months marketers have been relying on supply from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is now responsible for about 90% of the importation of the product and sells to marketers at N131 per litre.
The NNPC, in its latest monthly report, said it remained the major importer of petroleum products, especially the PMS, in spite of liberalisation of petroleum products and government’s intervention meant to ease the marketers’ access to foreign exchange.
In the past, marketers were importing 70 per cent of the products, while the NNPC was bringing in the balance, being the supplier of last resort.
Meanwhile, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum resources, said on Tuesday, February 7 that Nigeria will stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019, in Abuja.
While speaking at a public hearing on the review of petroleum pricing template for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) organised by the House of Representatives, Mr Kachikwu said that within two years, the FG had successfully revived refineries that were not functioning.
This huge improvement in the industry had contributed about eight million out of over 20 million litres of petrol consumed in the country daily.