From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has thrown its weight behind the clamour for the removal of fuel subsidy as the only remedy for the recurring scarcity of petrol across the country.
According to the northern-based political and socio-cultural organisation, the best way for the National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to make fuel available always is to remove subsidy completely.
ACF Secretary General, Murtala Aliyu, who disclosed this in an interview said: “For as long as we continue to import fuel, we have to subsidise it and doing so, will certainly make government resources to continue to be limited.”
He kicked against the idea of borrowing money to pay for fuel subsidy, adding that government has been shying away from the issue of subsidy.
“We all know that petrol, diesel, kerosene and gas are all utilities. Like we buy firewoods, pay for water and pay for electricity, if we want to use it, we should pay for petrol too. It will definitely put cost on transportation, and other things, but that is the reality of the situation,” he said.
He said if subsidy is removed, there would be enough resources to provide for security of lives and property of the citizens, education and health care. He expressed strong support for open market for marketers to do the importation and sell freely.
“I am sure if this is done, the rate will crash because products will be available. And certainly, issue of price hikes will be over. Let the market forces of demand and supply determine price of goods and services,” he said.
Meanwhile, he urged the management of Mele Kyari-led NNPCL to intensify efforts to ensure the recent fuel queues at filling stations across Nigeria disappear.
On the performance of NNPC under Kyari, the ACF scribe said: “If you’re talking about the performance of NNPCL or the oil sector generally, I think since the President Muhammadu Buhari administration came up, we have had less problem with fuel queues until recently.”
He, therefore, urged the leadership of NNPCL to redeem the good image hitherto achieved in recent years as a company with improved performance and ensure the issue of long queues in the filling stations is addressed immediately.
Fielding question on issue of oil discovery in the North, the ACF scribe said there is no exciting news about oil discovery in the North.
In the first place, the issue of discovering oil should not be a competition matter but something that the whole country should be happy with.
“I can tell you that if for any reason, we discover oil anywhere within the country, we should all be happy because, it’s an additional resources that will help provide more jobs, lead to sustainable growth and development.
“If there is oil in commercial quantity found inland, it should not be used for export, but processed for internal consumption.
“We can have modular refineries all around to produce the crude oil discovered in Gombe and Bauchi states. And where there is gas, we should use it for generation of energy instead of looking at it from the export dimensions. And if it becomes abundant, even our neighbours can now benefit.”
While stating that discovery of oil in the North is a positive thing, he said: “It shouldn’t be about export or 13 per cent derivation but about the fact that there is enough resources for the country for the population to enjoy .
“We in the ACF are not expressing undue excitement about oil discovery in the North.
“People look at things politically, they think North needs to also measure up because they see you as not producing anything. If you look at the Nigerian GDP, oil is responsible for about 10 per cent, which means there is something else keeping the country together like agriculture.
“Secondly, agriculture provides more employment than any other sector which means they engage the economy more than the oil sector.
“I think not just oil, but any other resources that could help the masses to be more comfortable and wealthier. I think government should embark on exploration of such resources.”