Yemisi Izuora/Ijeoma Agudosi
The Director-General of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo has commended the promptness of the Federal Government in reviewing downward the price of fuel from N97per litre to N87per litre, noting that by this action, the government has demonstrated its sensitivity to the welfare of Nigerians.
In a statement in Lagos he said,’ We should, however, remind ourselves that this action by government is begging the more fundamental issue of appropriate policy framework that will promote investment in the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas and put a stop to the embarrassing and shameful practice of importation of PMS.
Our expectation therefore, is that government would seize the opportunity of the current decline in the price of crude oil to commence implementation of the policy on deregulation of the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas. This is a unique timing the government cannot afford to miss as full implementation of deregulation, which in time past had led to price increase and reaction by the labour movement by the way of industrial action, does not have any negative effect on the masses’.
He also said NECA was indeed surprised that government’s announcement was limited to just the reduction in the price of fuel (PMS) as one would have expected a far more holistic announcement of a new policy thrust of deregulation of the downstream sector and privatization of the four (4) government refineries which have now become a sink-hole.
‘We do appreciate the fact that election is around the corner and the government is being unusually cautious on the possible backlash which announcement of deregulation of the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas could have on its electoral fortunes. We, however, do not share the sentiment, giving the fact that this is one moment when such a policy announcement would not have any damaging impact on the populace’, he said.
Oshinowo, added as follows: ‘’it is a common thing for government to weigh economic imperatives against political exigencies at moments of political engagement and political process as we are currently experiencing. Government is more likely to accord priority to political exigencies while relegating economic imperatives to the background particularly if the fall-out of the economic imperatives will undermine public perception of the government. The issue, however, is that the government is not faced with that choice under the current circumstance as the economy stands to gain from the deregulation policy. We, therefore, call on the government to do the needful by coming out boldly and courageously to inform the Nigerian populace that it has deregulated the downstream of the Oil & Gas sector’’.