Deregulation Policy Is Ill-Timed – Ajayi


Andrew Ajayi is a Public Affairs analyst and commentator . He is the founder of the organisation for Character Reformation, and Integration of Nigeria (OCHRON) a humanitarian and Non-governmental organisation. In this interview with The Weekend Tide, he spoke on the planned deregulation of the petroleum industry by the federal government, among other Sunday issues. Recently you vehemently criticised the deregulation Policy of the federal government radio links, why are you opposed to the policy?
I have always believed that Governance or the word Government is about the welfare of the people, the reason why there are government all over the world is because there is need for an organised society. Every body can not be in charge. You have to thrust governance in the hand of people who owe a responsibility toward the existing society. If we have a government in Nigeria and government control the entire resources of the country, which they share out to states and local Governments from the federation account in the real sense the government is supposed to be concerned about the security and welfare of the people before it carries out any policy.
Deregulation as we know in Nigeria is nothing more than increase in the price of petroleum products that will now in turn increase the hardship that Nigerian had been going through. It is a recurrent decimal among Nigerian leaders dating back to the military era. Obasanajo increase the price of petroleum products for about 12 times. They say Nigeria is highly that is why things are not working well. That is an insult to Nigerians, Nigerians should not suffer because we have a large population. Our population should be our strength. We should buy fuel for N15 per litre. Among the twelve OPEC countires Nigeria has the lowest per capital income.
Algeria sells petroleum to its citizens at 34 cents which is N49.30k. it has a gross domestic product (GDP) of 2402 billion dollars, while the per capita income is 7100 dollar.
Angola sells at 53 cents, which N76.85 their GDP is 114.6 billion dollars, while per capita income is 9100 dollars.
Equardor sells at 51 cents which is N73,95k Their GDP is 107b dollars, while per capita income is 7,700 dollars.
Iran sells at 10 cents which is N14.50, The GDP is 3859.7 billion dollars.
Irag sells at 10 cents which is N14.50.
Their GDP is 113.9 billion dollars, percapita income is 4000dollars.
Nigeria sells at 44 cent which N65.00. Our GDP is 328.1 billion dollars, per capita income is 2200 dollars and this is the lowest among all of them. deregulation at this time will lead to the increase in the cost of foodstuff, transportation, education clothing and everything. Why I welcome idea of deregulation of the down stream sector, of the petroleum industry, government should do certain things that are paramounts.
What are those things that Government should do?
Government should ensure that the four refineries that we have in Nigeria are working. A situation where you have to refine our own crude oil outside the shores of this country is burdensome. It does not portray the fact that we are a serious country. Our economy is petrol based we are running a monolithic economy. Since we have not been able to diversify into agriculture, let government ensure that subsidy that it had continually placed on oil should remain. Government should not remove subsidy from petroleum product. The World Trade Organisation once urged former President George Bush in America to remove subsidy on agriculture for American people to protect there international trade interest but G eorge Bush stood on the side of the people who elected him their president. Government policies should be people based.
A situation where Nigerians will be saying no to deregulation and the government insists on forcing it down their throat is against the concept of good governance.
What other areas will you want the Government to consider in view of the deregulation policy?
Government should open up the economy. There should be diversification. There are multinationals, operating in Nigeria. The licenses that government had granted them to build refineries should not be allowed to be forlorn. Government should encourage them to muster foreign expert support to build these refineries in Nigeria so that technology can be transferred to Nigerians. By then if our refineries are having problems it will get the services of foreigners to repair them.
In comparison to other oil producing countries of the world do you think that Nigeria exploiting the advantages to the benefit of its people.
Nigeria is yet to exploit opportunities in oil economy. Some times flippant excuses are given for such laxity. Some time the government says we are highly Qarta, Saudi Arabia, united Arab Eminrate certain rate more than Nigeria in terms of per captia income. The Nigerian Government should regulate and not deregulate the society.
Why do you think the Nigerian referies had remain non-functional after 49 years of independent?
A. The state of our refineries now is an indictment on the various governments that have ruled this country. It shows that the government had not as a matter of policy, developed enough human capacity to man and sustain the process of indigenisation we are a concusming economy and we live at the mercy of the developed nation in the world. Nigeria is very reluntant to learning and stabilising policies. The poor state of our refineries shows that the government have not done what they are supposed to do to get things right.
There are issues of corruption in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC. This body had been prone to corrupt practices that render the corporation incapacited the government should look into the various cases of corruption in the NNPC. NNPC counterpart in Brazil the Petrol Braz is doing well. But our own oil empire is dying. The Ministry of Petroleum should collaborate with the Niger Delta ministry, the states and local governments to build refineries.
Talking about the oil companies, many of them publish names of people given scholarship abroad, but there is no statistic that such beneficiaries are given employment in the oil sector.
That is another critical area, for Nigeria to grow it must respond to the imperatives of justice. It is the responsibility of the government and the multinational to ensure that people trained in any field are gainfully employed. This is the only way that peace and real development can be achieved in the Niger Delta.
Nigeria is playing to a strict capitalists state and this is only swelling the wealth of a privileged few. Majority of Nigerians live below a dollar daily. Nigeria should blend capitalism with mixed economy where every interest will be ably to strive comparatively. A system where only the rich and influential has their day foreclose the cream of an egalitarian nation, where peace, justice, equity, and good governance reign.