The Group Managing Director of Rainoil Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie, has called on the Federal Government to end the wasteful petroleum subsidy and put the funds in other critical sectors of the economy to unlock the potential in those sectors.
Ogbechie said that Nigeria cannot continue to spend over N3 trillion on a single product, while other critical sectors continue to suffer, adding that the country was ripe for deregulation to allow market forces drive the petroleum marketing business in the country. The Rainoil GMD made the intervention in Lagos at a briefing to herald the firm’s 25 years anniversary as a major downstream petroleum industry player in the country since 1997.
Nigeria’s petrol subsidy spend for 2022 has been pegged at N4 trillion as the National Assembly recently approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to raise the subsidy budget, citing changes in inflation and the rising oil prices. The government had planned to remove petrol subsidy and fully deregulate the downstream petroleum sector by the second half of this year, but in January it deferred the deregulation by 18 months. Nigeria currently sells petrol, which is 100 per cent imported at a subsidised pump price of N165 per litre, even when the landing cost alone is over 100 per cent higher than the pump price.
However, Ogbechie expressed concern over the parlous state of the Nigerian economy, which he attributed partly to the huge resources used to subsidise petrol, insisting that government must deregulate the downstream sector to curb wastages and loss.“Nigeria is over-ripe for deregulation. The over N3 trillion currently being spent to subsidise petroleum products in the country can be put into other critical sectors like education, health, road infrastructure, power, among others,” he said.