–PH refinery to resume operations in March
—Buhari’s legacy beyond Infrastructure-Lai Mohammed boasts
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor & Obas Esiedesa,ABUJA
The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said on Monday, that the federal government has no powers to intervene in the rising price of household kerosene, a major cooking energy for low-income earners and rural dwellers in Nigeria.
The minister, who made the claim at a media briefing in Abuja to unfold the achievements of the Buhari administration in the petroleum industry since the assumption of office in 2015, pointed out that the price of kerosene had already been deregulated and could no longer be controlled by the government.
The minister said: “He said: “Kerosene, which is the fuel for the average household, is already a deregulated product. It is not necessarily within the purview of the government but a now a commercial decision. Companies will import and sell kerosene at a commercial rate. It is a deregulated product”.
The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that kerosene price has risen by 145.86 per cent from N441 per litre in November 2021 to N1,083 per litre in November 2022.
Chief Sylva expressed the hope that Nigerians would see the need for petrol to be similarly deregulated to free up funds for the government to execute other development projects.
The minister explained that it was important for Nigerians to understand that petroleum products prices are market-driven and based on the prevailing exchange rate, adding that petroleum products were still being sold at the cheapest rates in Nigeria compared to its neighbours.
While insisting that the best way to make petrol readily available for all Nigerians was through the removal of subsidies, which is not sustainable, the minister however pointed out that the government is to ensure that the price is market-driven.
“If petroleum product prices are market-driven it would drive a lot of investments. A lot of private investors want to come in and invest in the Nigerian petroleum industry but who would want to invest under a subsidy regime?
“If you build a refinery, how is your refinery going to make a profit under a subsidy regime? But if you have a market-driven situation, a lot of investors will come and the problem of access to petroleum products will be a thing of the past,” Sylva stated.
He disclosed that the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery was on track, saying the 60,000 barrels per day component of the refinery would come on stream before the end of the first quarter of 2023.
Chief Sylva also expressed optimism that oil production would continue to improve as security in the Niger Delta region is beefed up, insisting that the Federal Government’s target of three million per day production was realisable.
He said the government was committed to the expansion of gas development, adding that the $250 million funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria would facilitate investments into domestic gas usage in Nigeria.
The minister dismissed the notion that the new Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, which was created under the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, was an independent company, pointing out that it remains under the Petroleum Resources Ministry.
“NNPC is not a private company; it is still 100 per cent government-owned. What has happened is that NNPC is now a commercial company and we allow it to operate commercially but it is still NNPC Limited, 100 per cent owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria and still under the purview of the Ministry of Petroleum,” Sylva pointed out.
Earlier, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, who coordinated the press briefing, berated those who accuse the Buhari administration of doing nothing tangible since coming into power, pointing out that the administration has left a legacy of achievements in all sectors of the economy.
Mohammed said, “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, between the last edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series on Dec. 22nd, 2022, and today’s opening edition for 2023, a lot of things have happened in the polity. But the most significant has been naysayers and the opposition trying to distort the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari for their own selfish ends. While some of the Administration’s fiercest critics said we have achieved nothing, others have admitted, though seemingly tongue in cheek, that it’s only in the area of infrastructure that the Administration has performed.
“Well, I want to say that both groups are wrong, very wrong. Yes, infrastructure development under the Buhari Administration is unprecedented since the nation’s return to democratic rule in 1999, and it has set the country on the path of development. But no, our legacy is more than infrastructure.
“The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of a revamped security sector, in the face of unprecedented security challenges in the country. Today, the Nigerian military is being restored to its glorious past, thanks to Mr. President’s foresight and doggedness in re-equipping the various services. And this has made it possible for the military to tackle insurgency and all other security challenges facing the country.
“As you can now see, this military has been recording success after success. Compare this with those who literally passed a vote of no confidence in our military by bringing in mercenaries to fight insurgency. Not only that, they looted dry all the funds earmarked to buy arms and ammunition for the military. Some of the alleged looters said they spent billions just praying against Boko Haram! The Nigerian military, which has excelled in global peacekeeping operations since 1960 and has sacrificed a lot to keep our country united, has regained its respect and influence.
“Ditto the Nigeria Police, which is steadily being repositioned to be efficient and well-motivated, and to improve its capacity to face modern-day security challenges. As the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs told us here last month, the Nigeria Police now has a state-of-the-art National Command and Control Centre. This is unprecedented. Other security agencies have not been left behind in the area of capacity
enhancement through training and modernization of equipment.
“The Buhari Administration is leaving a legacy of inclusiveness, especially in the areas of infrastructure and social development. There is no state in Nigeria that is not witnessing at least a road, a bridge or a housing project. None! The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has also told us here how Mr President approved tranches upon tranches of funds to states, irrespective of their party affiliation, to enable them to meet their obligations to the people. We dare any part of this country to say that it has not benefitted from the programmes of the Buhari Administration in one way or another and we will happily counter that with verifiable evidence,” Mohammed boasted.
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