Petrol Subsidy: Former SPE Chair Says Govt Failed To Address Key Instrument First 

Yemisi Izuora

Immediate past Chairman, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nigeria Council, Engineer Joe Nwakwue, has picked holes in ministerial pronouncement on petrol subsidy removal, declaring that there are four legal instruments that muat have been repealed before the announcement.

Speaking at the first WhatsAppinar organised by leading e-Community of intellectuals, opinion leaders and policy moulder in Africa, Platforms Africa Forum, termed “Platforms Africa e-Discourse,” Nwakwue declared that like the stone age, which went into extinction not because there was no stone again, crude oil is finite and measures like subsidy removal implemented by the Federal government and diversification are much needed to plan for the imminent day.

Nwakwue however declared at the WhatsAppinar moderated by Ghanaian veteran journalist and accomplished administrator, Francis KOKUTSE, for 177 participants across the continent that there are some legal bobby traps the government failed to clear before going ahead with Ministerial declaration for petrol subsidy removal.

“It is important to do this properly. Ministerial pronouncements are good but not enough. There are four legal instruments that need to be repealed for that to sustainably happen. Section 6 of the Petroleum act 1969 (as amended),  section 4 of the Price control act 1977, the PPPRA act and the Petroleum Equalization act,” he declared.

Crude oil, he continued, “is a finite resource, so yes it can finish. But that really is not the threat. The threat we face is about demand. If the world finds a more environmentally friendly and efficient fuel, the demand for oil will vanish and it will not be economic to produce. Just like stone and the stone age….while the stone age is over, we still have stone.

“Countries like Nigeria need to understand the urgency to maximizing the use of these resources to develop their country so it does not become obsolete in their hands. Nigeria is thought to have about 2.6 billion tonnes of coal that is now obsolete…I pray that will not be said about oil.”

Describing the marginal field program on-going in Nigeria as excellent, the Petroleum Engineer said; “However, I  think it would have been a good opportunity and time to review and update the program for better outcomes.

Asked whether crude oil is a blessing or a curse to Nigeria and Africa, Nwakwue sàid; “It should be a blessing. An endowment is a positive thing….its up to you how you use it. A resource endowment is not and cannot be a curse, it’s probably those who misuse it that can be said to be cursed. We have seen how sustainable and viable economies can be built on the back of natural resource endowment. Examples are all over….Norway, Saudi, Australia among others.”

Going forward, he said; “We hope that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will usher in a new and positive phase in the development and growth of our industry that is built on transparency, value addition and inclusiveness. We can do it.

“The low contribution to GDP is due to the way the industry was built. Essentially in a rentier, extractive mode. We failed to diversify the sector for value capture.

“I am hoping the PIB will help address that problem by incentivising the development of our midstream and downstream.”

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