03 June 2015, Abuja – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the focus of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry is based on local refining of products rather than importation.
The union argued that if local refining was not increased to meet demand for petroleum products, especially for Premium Motor Spirit or petrol, removing subsidy on petroleum products would bring more hardship to Nigerians.
In a statement signed by National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Emmanuel Ojugbana, the association said that removing subsidy while the country depended on importation of refined products would make the prices to be out of the reach of the masses and cause inflation.
He said the importation of refined petroleum products was a major drain on the nation’s revenue, adding that it was creating jobs for the refining nations in spite of the high unemployment rate in Nigeria.
Ojugbana said, “Importation of refined petroleum products is also putting the naira under undue pressure and creating social problems for the economy. This is unacceptable to PENGASSAN.
“The abrupt removal of fuel subsidy will create chaos that may ground the economy. PENGASSAN calls for well-coordinated measures with timelines to achieve self-sufficiency in local refining as a means of ending fuel subsidy.
“This should be combined with such other measures for effective optimisation of gas, especially for domestic, industrial, electricity and automotive energy. Such will create other affordable and friendly sources of energy needs.”
He called on the government to declare a state of emergency in the downstream oil and gas sector and convene a stakeholders’ forum to come up with concrete and sustainable steps with reliable timelines for achieving demand-supply equilibrium through local refining.