The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku has charged Nigerians to embrace deregulation in the oil sector saying it was the only way the sector could grow.
Maku who gave the charge during an interview said that the entire policy of deregulation had been misunderstood, especially as it affected the oil sector of the economy.
Maku argued that deregulation had worked in other sectors of the economy like aviation, telecommunications, and broadcasting and as such would work in the oil sector as well.
“I think honestly that this policy has been misunderstood. We are talking about deregulation and we have tried deregulation in other sectors and it has succeeded. That is what is giving us the courage, the encouragement to go into it. First we tried it in aviation in the 90s; when Nigerian Airways was the only airline here and nobody had the right to float an airline in Nigeria, then deregulation came, people were afraid,” Maku noted.
“Today you go to the airport, airlines are still being established now; you no longer wait at the airport, so today the aviation industry has grown and is growing. Because the private sector is where the most investable capital is located now so to free this sector, what we have had in aviation is what we would witness,’’ he stressed.
The minister further cited example with the broadcasting sector where the private sector was given licenses to float media outfits and as such more media houses came up and employment was generated as well as revenue in form of tax.
He also mentioned the telecommunications sector where Nitel used to be a monopoly with about 400,000 unreliable trunk lines which generated no income to government, but expenses.
“Today, telecoms deregulation has brought about a new revolution in Nigeria: from 400,000 analogue lines we now have close to 90 million new lines that Nigerians on the farm, in the markets, everywhere today are communicating with the rest of the world, advancing the economy. “Where you have to travel on foot or hire a vehicle to go, you simply make a phone call and save the money of transportation. People stay in their houses now to do their businesses using their telephone.”
“Today the telecoms companies have emerged as the highest tax paying companies in Nigeria over and above banks. We derive tens of billions of Naira today from tax paid by telecom companies whereas government before was spending huge money to sustain Nitel that didn’t generate a Kobo.
Maku stressed that considering the level of economic advancement achieved in other sectors that had been deregulated; such successes should also be expected from oil sector deregulation, adding “if we don’t do this, this country will not make progress.”
Ex-Lawmaker Volunteers For Petroleum Sector Deregulation
An ex-lawmaker, Sen. Ben Murray Bruce, has announced that he is willing to serve as a volunteer in deregulating the country’s petroleum sector.
This follows the ex-lawmaker’s faulting of Nigeria losing over N5trilion annually as a result of fuel subsidy.
Bruce, who represented Bayelsa East Senatorial District in the 8th Senate, on his verified Twitter handle, decried what he described as ignorance and ineptitude of government agencies responsible for fuel subsidy.
“We cannot keep losing five trillion naira annually. I am able and willing, and I volunteer myself to lead the team to deregulate our petroleum sector.
“I will execute this flawlessly such that no Nigerian will be on the street protesting.
“The ineptitude and ignorance of the government agencies responsible for this are mind-boggling,” Bruce tweeted.
Stakeholders Urge FG To Shift From Fossil Fuel
Stakeholders in the extractive industry have said that as a fossil fuel dependent country, Nigeria must develop its own strategy to engage in shifting global focus away from oil.
This was the conversation at a recent one day capacity building workshop for media and Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, organised by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, through its Natural Resource and Extractive Programme, in partnership with Natural Resource Governance Institute.
The hybrid workshop, themed, “Oil Dependency in Nigeria: Imagining a Future Beyond Oil”, had over 50 participants, including journalists from the extractive sector, CSOs, and social media influencers in attendance.
The workshop, according to the organisers, was geared towards improving the understanding of oil dependency and the nexus with energy transition to better communicate the impact on Nigeria and the Nigerian economy.
Senior Officer, NRGI, Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli, explained that Nigeria was at a critical point in its development, hence as a fossil fuel-dependent country, it is important that Nigeria develops its own strategy to engage the shifting global focus away from oil.
“Nigeria must develop its own medium to long term strategy to mitigate the likely export and government revenue losses from a shrinking market base as these countries look to reducing oil reliance beyond 2030.
“Nigeria must make strategic decisions in the way it spends its limited revenues, take economic diversification more seriously, leveraging regional and global opportunities beyond oil, and including new frontier possibilities available in the green economy”, she said.
Also, Deputy Director, Development Practice, CJID, Mr. Akintunde Babatunde, said as energy transition persists globally, Nigeria as a monolithic fossil fuel dependent economy has to prepare for what the shift to cleaner energy sources means for its economy.
“Data is pointing us to the fact that Nigeria will likely lose a majority of its foreign exchange earnings and revenues for both the federal and subnational government.
“In fact, it is already happening, because Nigeria is at a critical point in its development process, it is important for professionals to discuss the way forward on how the decisions we make as a country are more important now than ever”, he said.
Earlier, the Acting Executive Director at CJID, Tobi Oluwatola, harped on the need for capacity building for the media and CSOs, noting that they are in the best position to enlighten the public from an informed perspective.
“It is time for Civil Society Organisations, journalists, and policy experts to have this discussion, most especially as Nigeria plans to achieve net zero by 2060. There is a need for CSOs to be empowered with the right skills to be able to do the right advocacy and accountability work in Nigeria”, he stated.
Nigeria To Construct Gas Pipeline To Europe Through Morocco
Nigeria has given the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) the greenlight to implement a deal on construction of a gas pipeline to Europe through Morocco.
This follows reports of surging demand for African energy supplies from the EU that is seeking to wean itself of dependence on Russian oil and gas.
“This gas pipeline is to take gas to 15 West African countries and to Europe and through Morocco to Spain and others,” said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.
“It is only after the engineering design of the pipeline has been made that we will know exactly (what) the cost of the pipeline will be. When that time comes, we will be talking about funding,” he added.
Nigeria is a member of the Opec group of major oil producers and has huge gas reserves – the largest proven reserves in Africa and the seventh largest globally.
On May 30, Tanzania transported 60,000 tonnes of coal to the Netherlands.
Last month, Botswana’s President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said European nations had “flooded” his country with requests to supply coal.
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