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    Wednesday, July 14, 2021

    PIB: Stakeholders, TUC Reject Limiting Fuel Importation to Refiners

    The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and petro­leum marketers on Tuesday condemned and described the planned move to limit fuel imports to only owners of refineries as monopolistic and a deliberate attempt to frustrate the challenges the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is intended to solve.

    Section 317(8) in the Sen­ate’s version of the Bill states that licence to import any product shortfall shall be assigned only to companies with active local refining li­cences.

    The workers’ body advised that the market should be left open if the government truly wants to be sincere in addressing the problem of the sector.

    The union is surprised and irritated by the conspir­acy to waste another oppor­tunity to fix the sector, noting that from the lawmakers’ position and body language one could infer they are serv­ing the interest of some few individuals to the detriment of the over 97 percent of the country’s population, saying it won’t allow that to happen.

    In a statement, TUC Pres­ident, Comrade Quadri Olal­eye, and Secretary General, Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozi­gi, said, the country cannot afford to continue toying with the oil and gas sector as it remains the only major source of foreign exchange. The labour leaders urged the lawmakers to rise up and pro­vide true leadership instead of serving the interest of few capitalists.

    It is high time “these principalities and powers” removed their knees from the neck of Nigeria and Ni­gerians, they said.

    According to the state­ment, the congress is not against the companies hold­ing refining licences, “we are only saying the sector should be left open so the destiny of the country will not be in the hands of a few individuals.

    “The pertinent questions are: how well are the prod­ucts and markets controlled by these same few people doing? Why are the lawmak­ers failing to see the large number of companies and employment that could be created when more inves­tors are allowed to invest? Are these people (lawmakers) not disturbed by the unprec­edented insecurity challenge in the country caused by un­employment? How long are these people going to contin­ue to exploit the country?

    “There is no sugarcoating the matter, the capitalist tra­jectory in Nigeria is moral­ly, economically, and legally wrong as it tends to impover­ish Nigeria and Nigerians. It hinders the country’s finan­cial and economic progress because it transfers a huge chunk of public wealth to ‘favoured businessmen’. This is not only treacherous but also a serious form of corruption. We urge them to use their money for the social benefits of all; after all, they enjoy forex largesse financed by Nigerians’ hard earned oil revenue.

    “We are calling on the government, especially the legislative arm, to rescind their decision immediately as it would only worsen the problem it is meant to solve. Nigerians are going through a very difficult period now, and no bill against protest can stop us from opposing undemocratic and dictatorial laws and policies of govern­ment.”

    Similarly, oil marketers faulted the restriction of li­cence to import petroleum products to only owners of refineries.

    The oil marketers said in a statement issued in La­gos that the insertion of the clause in the Bill would create a monopoly that would exploit ordinary Nigerians.

    The oil marketers con­veyed their dissatisfaction in a statement signed joint­ly by Mr. Olufemi Adewole, Executive Secretary, Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAP­PMAN) and Mr. Clement Isong, Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Associ­ation of Nigeria (MOMAN) and made available.

    They also noted, however, that “as industry stakehold­ers and professionals with heavy investments in the downstream sector, we wel­come the entry and partici­pation of local refineries.

    “We believe that local refin­ing ultimately benefits Nigeri­ans and our economy. We also commend the government’s plan to repair all existing re­fineries boosting our refining capacity,” they stated.

    They stated also that their opposition to Section 317(8) was based on the premise that it posed monopoly risk that must be avoided.

    The marketers said that it was imperative that a level playing field was set for all op­erators across the oil and gas value chain.

    “Any provision that does not guarantee a free and open market will give room to price inefficiencies and eventually kill off small businesses in the down­stream sector”, they said.

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