A former Minister of Petroleum, Prof. Tam David-West, has insisted that Nigeria can still sell petrol at N45 per litre because some of the factors that make the price currently as high as N145 per litre were either illegal or avoidable.
He said this while rejecting suggestions by a forum of former Group Managing Directors (GMDs) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the government to remove the N145 cap for pump price of petrol.
The ex-NNPC heads including the current GMD, Mr Maikanti Baru held a meeting in Abuja at the weekend where they called for a removal of the N145 cap on pump price to sustain availability of the product, among others.
But David-West rejected the call saying: “My position on this is clear. I believe Nigeria can still sell petrol at N45 per litre. Though I never said Buhari government would sell petrol for N40 per litre. I was misquoted. I only said his administration could. I said so for two major reasons. There are 14 items added to the pump price with the collusion of the NNPC. They include foreign exchange factor, insurance, demurrage, marketers’ margin and bridging difference. Bridging difference is what is paid by the government through petroleum equalization fund to cover haulage cost of petroleum from the South to the Nirth so the price can be the same all over the country. But the fund takes care of this factor. Why should it be included again in the pricing?
“Actually, the most outrageous to me is that the NNPC buys crude in dollar. That’s why it is increasing pump price. But that is illegal because the crude is produced in Nigeria. Two, Naira is the legal tender in Nigeria, not dollar. Why should NNPC buy crude oil in dollar to refine and sell to Nigerians? It is ridiculous. NNPC is not a business organization that must sell products to citizens as profit. It is a service organization.
“There is need for policy change. I’m not saying marketeers should lose but ordinary Nigerians should also enjoy petroleum which is the gift of God for all citizens.”
The former minister also called for a parley between the government and militants in the Niger Delta area.
He said: “We have to be careful in how we destroy oil exploration in Nigeria. We need foreign companies to explore. If we make it difficult for them to operate they can move away. There will be nothing to share or fight over. Then, Nigeria will suffer. People of Niger Delta and Nigerians at large will suffer. The articulation of neglect is valid but we need to sit down with the people and discuss ways out of the challenges.”