A few days after the Federal Government declared the deregulation of the oil sector, 37 firms have indicated interests to invest in the country’s refineries, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said.
Mohammed disclosed this during the stakeholders’ meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Thursday.
The increase in the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) known as fuel to N145 by the Federal Government last week has received mixed reactions from Nigerians.
The minister, who led his colleagues, Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment), Adamu Adamu (Education) and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal to interface with the leadership of the APC, including the state chairmen of the party, urged the party leaders to educate their members to embrace the government’s decision on the new fuel pump price.
Mohammed, who reeled out the advantages of the deregulation of the oil sector, stated that the exercise had led to 37 companies expressing interests to invest in the petroleum downstream sector.
The minister further said that all the stakeholders in the industry, including the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), the National Union of Petroleum Natural Gas (NUPENG), Petroleum and Natural Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) were consulted and they also advised the government on how best the fuel impasse could be permanently arrested before government took its position.
According to him, the government has setup a committee to look at the entire price regime vis-a-vis the minimum wage so that a lasting solution could be reached, adding that the committee which is yet to be inaugurated, is expected to submit its findings in six months.
On the benefits of the new price regime, Mohammed said:
“Let’s look at the benefit for Nigeria and for the common man. The first benefit for Nigeria and for the common man is that it will conveniently eradicate subsidy payment and all corruption associated with subsidy payment.
“In 2015 alone, over N1 trillion was spent on subsidy. Even our own government, we had to go to the National Assembly for a supplementary budget; the subsidy component of that budget was N572 billion. When this new price regime becomes operational, then we are not going to pay anybody any subsidy again. We can now use the money for roads, education and health.
“This new price regime will make the product available everywhere in the country at all times. That crude which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been using to supplement its swap system will cease and then there will then be more money for the three tiers of government to share. This price regime is going to encourage more investments in refineries and in the gas stream sector. You may notice that throughout last week, 37 companies were jostling to come and invest in our refineries just because we have opened up the sector.
“Again, this price regime will lead to the creation of more jobs because when people invest in the downstream sector, they invest in refineries; there will be more jobs and it will also save the existing jobs. We can see a total of 200,000 new jobs being created and saving the existing 400,000 jobs.
And as the NLC strike enters the third day today, the union’s President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba has expressed the resolve of the organised labour to resume negotiations with the government.
Wabba, who led the NLC leaders to the Senate on Thursday, debunked media reports that his team staged a walkout on the Federal Government’s delegation.
He told journalists in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the Senate President, Abukakar Bukola Saraki, that the NLC has not received any formal invitation for a meeting with the Federal Government since they commenced the strike.