*Says Buhari lacks capacity in addressing petroleum industry challenges
Port Harcourt — President Muhammadu Buhari has not shown any capacity, towards addressing the challenges facing Nigeria’s petroleum industry, on which crest he rode to power in 2015, the Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD has said.
FENRAD who faulted the government’s lack of clear-cut deregulation framework on fuel price, said government is insincere in dealing with citizens towards achieving equitable price regime, saying that the current strategy was undemocratic.
Executive Director of FENRAD, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, after a critical assessment of the deregulation programme of the petroleum subsector going on under this administration, lamented the arbitrary increase in pump price of premium motor spirit, PMS.
Nwafor said it was sad that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, through its subsidiary, Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, could slap such a mean policy on the citizens in a time like this.
FENRAD recalled that during COVID19 lockdown, fuel sold at N121 per litre, but has since June 2020 undergone various upward price review, even when the purchasing power and consumption capacity of Nigerians face a sharp decline.
The FENRAD boss said lack of clear-cut regulatory framework of the Buhari-led government in the oil industry speaks volumes, as the government had announced removal of subsidy and adopted in its place what it termed ‘under-recovery payment’.
He regretted that the only distinguishable feature under the said under-recovery programme was that NNPC became the be-all and end-all of marketing of the product through its subsidiary -PPMC – selling directly to the marketers; otherwise nothing has changed.
“The President who is both the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and substantive Minister of Petroleum has not shown the capacity to address the challenges in the petroleum industry, on which crest he rode to power in 2015.
“The current deregulation under Buahri has not only failed to enthrone a price-modulated regime where market forces determine cost but has continually used government forces (NNPC and PPMC) to determine, peg and work out price template.
“Government forces and not market forces still call the price. Otherwise how does one explain away the chequerred price fluctuations since June 2020 from N121 (in June) to N148-N151 in around August, and now N171 in November with the retail price of over N200 in some parts of the country?
“Was the subsidy removal now termed deregulation phased to suffer Nigerians on quarterly or monthly basis? Government is yet to show itself as being precise policy wise.”
FENRAD said the hike in fuel price was not unconnected with the desire to create a Midstream Sector Regulatory Authority to replace both Petroleum Equalization Fund Board and Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency, PPPRA as contained in the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
“The Equalization Fund, if well managed can fix our refineries running below optimal capacity. Billions are (mi)spent in the name of equalization by the Board, yet Nigeria still imports her own God-given resource.
“FENRAD wonders if the PIB which has for long suffered staggered passage is being implemented in phases to drag the suffering of Nigerian poor.”