27 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja- The Minister of Petroleum Resources and Board Chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke on Thursday rebuffed insinuations by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, that Government is economical with the truth regarding the planned deregulation programme.
In a press statement circulated to newsmen on Thursday, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, informed that nothing has changed about the Federal Government’s objective of deregulating the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to encourage the influx of investments and the plough back of savings from subsidy into key infrastructure projects.
“There is no lie about the fact that Government has consulted widely and is still consulting with key stakeholders like labour, traditional institutions, organised private sector, the national assembly to reach an amicable understanding of the issues involved in deregulation. And I am sure Labour cannot deny this fact,” Ajuonuma stated.
He added that the facts on ground suggest that Government cannot continue to bear the burden of subsidy which currently gulps a huge chunk of the total annual Federal budget.
Dr Ajuonuma argued that it is a fact that the subsidy claims has benefited only a few individuals to the detriment of the generality of Nigerians for whom it is meant.
“Let us be bold enough to call a spade a spade. The masses travel on big mass transit vehicles which run on diesel, Lorries and other heavy duty vehicles that convey farm produce from the rural areas to urban centres are also powered by the same diesel which has since been deregulated. Our research also indicates that BRT buses in places like Lagos as well as other mass commuter schemes which convey workers to and from their work place, including over 80 percent of NLC members, on a daily basis, are fuelled by diesel. So who benefits from subsidized PMS? The gain of course goes to the few Nigerians that can afford fleet of petrol powered cars, four wheel drives and sport utility vehicles, SUV,” Dr. Ajuonuma stated.
He called on the Nigerian Labour Congress to remain progressive and join hands with Government in ensuring that the money saved from withdrawal of subsidy is ploughed back into the economy to stimulate growth and ensure effective penetration of developmental projects for the general wellbeing of Nigerians.
“For the first time, we have a Government that is ready to ensure that funds realised from this savings is channeled into some select projects and social upliftment schemes in a transparent and accountable manner via the instrumentality of a Special Purpose Vehicle to be managed by a group of eminent Nigerians. This was clearly emphasized by the Honourable Minister,” Dr. Ajuonuma stated.