The long awaited decision of the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream oil sector and allow all interested independent marketers to import and sell petroleum products has been taken.
Although we believe total deregulation, meaning without any fixing, may well be inevitable, we fully support this needful policy. In doing so, we take cognizance of the fact that the NNPC suffers from an abject lack of capacity to meet the astronomical rise in demand for fuel products occasioned by the following
- Serial failure of past administrations to expand and maintain the decaying downstream oil infrastructure.
- The remarkable tendency of Nigerian public officials to mismanage public enterprises which creates all sorts of system malfunctions and failures. These could be seen in the dismal failure to maintain the refineries, oil pipelines, storage facilities, distribution system and subsidy regimes.
- As a result, humongous amount of public funds has been deployed in the sustenance of this wasteful system with dubious benefits to the general public. This leaves government with no alternative than to direct its meager resources in the provision of other more beneficial and essential social services like education and health. Obviously, offering subsidy on petrol cannot be the only assistance government can render citizens.
Our stand does not in any way seek to deny the right of others to disagree. We actually understand and respect the rights of those equally well meaning Nigerians who have already made public their dissension.
We however expect them to justify their disagreement by providing better options supported by facts and figures, failing which we remain resolute in supporting governments’ decision. We also have a duty to appeal to them not to derail a beneficial and well intentioned policy out of a desire to work cheap popularity, while creating more economic hardship for the very people they need to protect.
Abubakar Dangiwa Umar