Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) says total deregulation of downstream oil sub-sector remains best option for Nigeria.
Mr Tunji Oyebanji, MOMAN Chairman, made this known in an interview with source on Sunday on the sideline of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
According to him, marketers don’t get foreign exchange at N305 to a dollar for importation of petrol as claimed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Oyebanji spoke against the backdrop of a claim by the Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, NNPC, Mr Henry Ikem-Obih, that marketers were given forex intervention scheme at N305 to a dollar, rolled out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and co-managed by the NNPC, which had been extremely successful.
The MOMAN boss was chairman of one the panel sessions themed:“Harnessing the Opportunities to Draw Nigeria Closer to Energy Security’’.
He said that none of its members got foreign exchange at N305 to a dollar for the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol:
“I don’t know who is getting it at that N305.
“So, if NNPC is giving some marketers at that rate, I want to believe it is not a transparent thing.
“If we are getting it at N305 for importation of petrol, we will be importing but we are not getting it. When the scheme started, that was the plan and CBN was handling it.
“Eventually, the NNPC took over and we don’t know who is getting it at N305. So, he can enlighten us by publishing the names of those who are getting it.”
Oyebanji, who is also the Managing Director of 11Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said: “We are not importing petrol at all but if we want to import Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) or Aviation Turbine Kerosene (aviation fuel), we have to go and buy at N330 or N346.
“You can’t compete because the NNPC is bringing everything at N305; so, it is not a level-playing field at all.
“If we are getting forex at N305 may be, we will be able to import,” he said.
The MOMAN chief said for now, there is no other alternative for marketers to commence importation of petrol until Dangote refinery comes on stream, which might ease supply and reduce fuel importation.
“Marketers can’t import fuel because if the price remains at this level; how can marketers import when the landing cost is more than the pump price. For now, only NNPC can absorb that.
“Indirectly it’s you and I that are bearing the cost because the money would have been put in other things.
“The truth of the matter is that deregulation is not an easy subject. If it is easy, it would have been done a long time ago.
“I think people are so used to paying a relatively cheap price for petrol in Nigeria. So, to change the situation, people have to be convinced that whatever saving that is made, it’s going to be put to good use,’’ he said.
He urged government to plan ahead of deregulation so that Nigerians could be prepared for it, adding that if planning would take the nation five years, it should start from somewhere.
He said that there should be palliatives to cushion the effects of total deregulation, while commending government for responding to payment of marketers’ outstanding subsidy debts.
Oyebanji said that marketers’ debts which stood at over N300 billion had been paid by government, saying that significant portion of the money had been paid through promissory notes:
“In case of MOMAN, it was originally over N8 billion but it has been reduced to N2 billion.’’
Amaka E. Nliam