The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has advocated for local refining of crude oil to make fuel available and easily accessible in the country. He noted that current measures being put in place to end the recurring problem of fuel scarcity would only work temporarily without permanent solution.
The Speaker made his position known when he received the Executive members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN). Dogara disclosed that while consultation was ongoing on the part of leadership at different strata, the results would only achieve temporary relief until refineries were functioning enough to refine crude locally to meet the demand of the people.
He observed that “Unless we are able to refine crude locally, we will never be in a position as a nation to say bye to fuel scarcity and that is the truth. Anyone who thinks we can depend on importation and still solve this problem is deceiving himself. “You see, when you import, you are depending on so many variables. These variables are not within your control and anything can happen along the line that may result in this. The solution is to refine crude locally and end this shame once and for all.” While calling for capacity building for workers to discharge their responsibility to yield optimal results, the final solution will be to refine crude, put it in the filling station and bid good bye to fuel scarcity.
The Speaker thanked PENGASSAN for taking the right path by engaging with legislators on areas of concern on developments in the petroleum sector, he noted that dialogue between citizens in the form of associations, unions and civil society groups, and the legislature, would deepen the process of democracy by making the government more responsive to their demands. Dogara assured the oil union that the House and the Senate are jointly working on the remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIG) to ensure that their passage is expedited. He advised PENGASSAN to take the opportunity of the joint public hearing of both petroleum committees of the National Assembly to make their input to the Bill.
On his own part, President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson commended the House for its effort at ensuring accountability and transparency in the oil and gas industry, as well as the National Assembly for passing the PIGB. He opined that the fuel scarcity Nigerians were experiencing was embarrassing and urged the House to collaborate with the union on finding a sustainable way to end the crisis and prevent a resurgence by revamping and rehabilitating the nation’s refineries with timelines and strategies that will lead to adequate and sustainable crude supply.
The PENGASSAN president also pleaded that all encumbrances associated with the importation of refined products into the country should be addressed along with enhancement of infrastructural facilities while appealing to the lawmakers for support for initiatives that will lead to job creation and improved security. This will pave the way forward for the embattled oil industry.