Nigeria has no business importing fuel –Gowon

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Adewale Sanyaolu

Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has said it remained worrisome that Nigeria was still a petroleum product import dependent economy.

Gowon, who spoke at the second yearly international Conference and Exhibition of the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) in Lagos, yesterday, said the foundation laid by his administration for the countries refineries was to make it an exporter of refined petroleum product and not otherwise.

Gowon, who was the Chairman of event, said: “I will like you to know that during our time, our plan was to build five export-oriented refineries to be exporting instead of giving the crude to various countries. We made up our mind that we will rather give them the refined ones and have tremendous refineries for export.

The three refineries located in; Port Harcourt, Warri, Kaduna were designed for internal consumption and we had planned that if our consumption grows more than the three can cope with, we will transfer one of the export-oriented refineries for home consumption. That was the way we had planned it.’’ He worried.

The elder statesman said he hoped that the Federal Government’s efforts in encouraging investments in modular refinery will improve the situation and put an end to the export of crude abroad which later return as refined petroleum products.

Also speaking,the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, explained that it might be difficult to remove fuel subsidy immediately as recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) without weighing the impact of such decision on the citizens.

Though, the minister acknowledged the logic in subsidy removal, he, however expressed concerns about the political will to take such decision without consequences to the well-being of Nigerians.

The Minister warned that removing subsidy requires careful thought and considerations so as not to create a dislocation in the system

“There is no doubt about the logic in removing subsidy but Nigeria has a very unique situation. You can see the reaction from NUPENG, PENGASSAN and others. There is a lot of anti-populism against that.

Any President that is going to take that decision will have to weigh all the factors. Some of the factors I don’t have here. I did this in 2016. Things have since changed and I need to go back and look at the IMF advice, the circumstances and advise the president on what to do.”

On fuel scarcity, “All I can say is that I went around Lagos this morning. The fuel situation was just a logistics issue. The reserve that they have is enough for 28 days. The one in Warri was also due to Vessel logistics as they have 15 vessels already. If you go around today, there is nothing as such. You will sometimes have occasional difficulties with logistics.What is important is the immediate action taken and the situation addressed promptly. There is no rational basis for panic buying,” he warned.

For his part, the President of OGTAN, Dr Mayowa Afe urged for strategy to harness opportunities in human capital in the country, adding that the local content Act has aided the growth of the oil and gas sector.

He called on oil companies to support the mission and vision statement of OGTAN by providing opportunities for students to horn their skills through the use of their facilities to update their knowledge.

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