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Nigerian news: Oil subsidy must go-Rilwanu Lukman

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwanu Lukman, says the level of subsidy for petroleum products at about N630 billion, representing 50 per cent of the capital budget of the Federal Government and that the subsidy will be removed.

But managing director of Petrogas West Africa Limited, Mr. Joseph Ebigbo decried the attempt to remove of subsidy on oil saying that it will trigger inflationary reactions in the economy. He noted that government subsidy hitherto, made petroleum products affordable in the absence of insufficient domestic production. He insistes that its removal will have adverse effect on the standard of living in Nigeria.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, Ebigbo who is a major player in the downstream oil sector in Nigeria called for non-removal of subsidy and non-deregulation of the sector because of its obvious implications.

Only recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi spoke at the 33rd Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Nigeria Council of the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Abuja.

He said that the oil and gas sector is crucial to Nigeria for revenue generation, investment and country wide growth and development. Nigeria according to him produced 2.2 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2003. But at present, production is about 1mbd, owing to the disruption of oil operations in the Niger Delta area. Sanusi also noted that the unrest in the Niger Delta, violent protests, vandalization of oil exploration facilities, unsustainability of the performance of local players and under utilization of existing infrastructure as challenges facing the industry.

Commenting on the Niger Delta struggle and the amnesty offer by the government, Ebigbo said that the militants have the right to seek for recognition being the egg that lays the golden egg. He noted that there may be some bad eggs among them who try to pervert the good course. These people according to Edigbo are parading themselves as just apostles were they are not.

“Those who fought for better future for the children and those who are coming after them, did their beat while the struggle lasted but now that government has offered amnesty between 6th of August to 4th of October they should embrace peace. It is a way of interegrating the militants back into the society and the underlying issues of the struggle brought to the national table” he stated.

He further said that the president of the Federal republic Nigerian Umaru Musa Yar’adua has done well by extending olive branch to the militants. Also the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission and Niger Delta ministry is a positive development toward ending the crisis in the area.

His words “These excellent mores by the president is many cost the government a lot of money but that is not compared with the loses recorded so far and the ones that may have come if not nipped in the bud” it is good to rehabilitate and take the arms away from them. Let come to the mainstream participation in the economy of the country”.

Source: Sun newsonline