• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Subsidy removal would have been without price surge

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The Muhammadu Buhari administration had promised and in fact, approved 18 modular refinery licences to the Niger Delta as the way to stop illegal refining and insecurity in the oil region. The regime through the office of the vice president had as far back as 2017 reached a working agreement with an organisation that helped the illegal refiners to register cooperative societies that would be awarded the licences.

Soon after, silence became the only message from the presidency, till Buhari left office.

This Reporter took the question to the head of the organisation that worked with the Presidency to bring about modular refineries in the region to assess what the impact would have been if at least 10 modular refineries were built some two years ago in the Niger Delta as promised by the Buhari administration, in the face of subsidy removal and price of fuel hitting above N500 per litre; read his reaction:

My name is Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, executive director of the Youth and Environment Advocacy Centre (YEAC); also, the National Facilitator of Project with Artisanal Crude Oil Refiners for Modular Refineries in the Niger Delta

If 10 modular refineries were successfully built in the Niger Delta two years ago, talking of 2021, what would have happened today, being 2023, when subsidy is being removed and fuel price goes above N500, would have been that there would have been enough product to create competition in the market, for both imported and the locally refined ones.

Recall that the modular refinery policy especially for artisanal crude oil refiners in the Niger Delta to serve as oil theft prevention mechanism and to mechanism against environmental pollution was started by the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2017 when the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, came to Niger Delta and strongly promised it by unveiling a scheme to grant licenses to build 18 modular refineries.

Read also: FG has no political will to clean up the Niger Delta – Dube

It is obvious that between 2017 and 2021 was enough time to build over 10 Modular Refineries in the region. At that time, it would take between 15 and 18 months to build one. If by 2021 when the FG finally concluded the policy and came forward to adhere to what YEAC told them, which is to build three modular refineries per Niger Delta state and they had graciously agreed and approved 18 meaning three per state in six states. The first surprise was that they did not approve for Imo, Abia, and Ondo states; but if they had started the started the policy in 2021, by today they would have completed the process.

The building of a modular refinery does not take up to 24 months. The so built modular refineries would have been producing products and be creating jobs for people to have resources to bear the impact of removal of subsidy. They would have been refining to make products surplus in the market such that removing subsidy would not harm people.

The presence of modular refineries would have agitated the market using the forces of demand and supply to mitigate the rise in price. There would have been no panic because there would have been enough products.

When you have much coming out, you would have the conventional refineries adding supplies, too. Then, you have the Dangote mega refinery coming out soon. Removal of subsidy would have been natural without complain. The whole thing would have gradually occurred and government would be withdrawing from the subsidy because local production would have replaced importation.

Since this was not done, we now have crisis that could have been avoided. It is causing serious harm on the economy, throwing more people into poverty and affecting the economy. It is not the way to go.

They should allow the subsidy that was provided for up till June 2023 to run till the end of June. Stabilise the prices in the market, release the 18 licenses promised to YEAC for refiners in the Niger Delta, and then fix the old refineries in the country, Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna, to work.

By this, by August 2023, the Dangote refinery would join, and when you see products coming from these sources, nobody will talk about subsidy, because naturally, fuel would be everywhere. Anything about subsidy would naturally go.

This situation where the country is not prepared and the modular refineries have not been set up, and then you see this subsidy being withdrawn, and not only that but funds have been approved to be appropriated in the 2023 Budget Act up till the end of June. But this, the funds are in the pockets of people and you abruptly stop it.

I think its betrayal by the NNPC Ltd to move their prices up when other people that have old stock were still selling below that, forcing the Independent Marketers to move their prices high, thus exploiting Nigerians.

If not that Nig are very docile, this is enough for the masses to hit the streets and demand for reversal because it’s been provided for. If we cannot go to the streets, then, we owe former president (Goodluck Jonathan) an apology for that ‘Occupy Nigeria’ in 2012 because of slight increase in fuel.

If these modular refineries were in operation, it would have moderated the now that subsidy is removed, in addition to addressing some local issues in the Niger Delta.