It is going to be highly suicidal to remove petrol subsidy now and the advice by the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee on subsidy removal is wrong, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers has said.
It was reported on Monday that the PEAC advised the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to remove subsidy on petrol and adopt a pricing regime that reflects the cost of the commodity.
Reacting to the development, the General Secretary, NUPENG, Olawale Afolabi, told our correspondent that implementing the advice would spell doom for the poor masses considering the precarious economic situation of Nigeria at present.
He said, “Within the current context of hardship in the country, it is suicidal to remove subsidy now. It is highly suicidal within the current situation.”
Afolabi said NUPENG had repeatedly told the government that the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry was the way to go, but this must not be based on petroleum product imports.
He said, “Deregulation is desirable in the downstream sector but we cannot deregulate within the context of importation. We have always been saying that domestic production is the way to go.
“So you cannot base our deregulation on the importation of products. It is like selling our employment opportunities and throwing away our resources. We’ve been telling government for years now, make sure that domestic production and refining of the product is on, then you can deregulate.”
On the benefits of deregulation, he said, “It will engender increased business activities in the downstream sector but it should not be based on importation of products. You should deregulate within the context of local refining.”
When told that the refineries were not working, Afolabi replied, “That means that the advice (of the PEAC) is wrong. That means that the advice is not applicable now.
“And for emphasis, within the context of the current hardship in the country you cannot remove subsidy at this period.”