Mr Tayo Aboyeji, Lagos Zonal Council Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has advised the Federal Government to fix the country’s refineries before removing fuel subsidies.
Aboyeji gave the advice while delivering his inaugural speech as the new zonal chairman of the union, on Thursday,. February 24, in Ibadan.
The NUPENG chief, whose tenure will run for four years, has Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos, and Kwara states under his command.
According to him, what Nigeria needs is more refineries, either by the private sector or the government, to refine and sell petroleum products locally.
He attributed the current scarcity to the time lag between returning the bad fuel and bringing in the good one.
The NUPENG zonal chairman urged the federal government to sanction or prosecute those behind the importation of the bad product to serve as a deterrent to others.
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The new chairman advised the government against implementing full deregulation now, as it would add to the suffering of the masses.
Aboyeji said: “We don’t have to depend on importation of fuel; so that we don’t continue to have problems with the possibility of the price going up every time.
“Although deregulation is good, it must not be import-driven.
“If we have the product locally, we can deregulate; but you cannot sell our crude to some people to refine it and bring it back; and say you want to deregulate. No, that is double jeopardy,” he said.
Aboyeji pledged his commitment to the union, saying that he would continue to proffer solutions to the various challenges facing the sector.
Also speaking, the National Vice President of NUPENG, Mr Haliru Bello, urged Nigerians to see the current scarcity as temporary.
“If removal of subsidy is what will better Nigeria’s economy, so be it; but if it’s something that will compound our problems, there should be a rethink.”
Bello also called for more encouragement for modular refineries; which, he noted, would not only boost the economy but also create jobs.
In an interview, Mr Salimon Oladiti, National Chairman, Petroleum Tanker’s Driver; a branch of NUPENG, said deregulation should be liberal and not placed under any regulated law.
Oladiti, an adviser on the informal sector to NUPENG, said as much as the union supported deregulation; it should not be implemented when the bulk of the petroleum products being consumed locally was still being imported.