Oil marketers have asked the Federal Government to implement a transition plan in preparation for fuel subsidy removal after May 29.
While speaking with Sunday PUNCH on the sidelines of the just-concluded Nigerian International Energy Summit in Abuja, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of 11 Plc and former Chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Tunji Oyebanji, said implementation of a transition plan ahead of the handing over of government by the current administration, would help guard against confusion in the downstream sector.
He said, “We are at a point in the downstream sector when the Petroleum Industry Act was passed 18 months ago but some vital aspects of it have been put on hold. One of them is the removal of fuel subsidies and full deregulation. Our expectation after May 29 is that those aspects put on hold will be implemented.
“However, before the day when subsidies will be removed, we expect that the government will have put in place a transition plan because right now, we are in a state of limbo where we don’t know what to do. Investors don’t like uncertainties. That is why we want a transition plan which will help give direction and not this current confusion that everyone is experiencing.”
When asked what the transition plan should look like, Oyananji said foreign exchange should have been released to marketers to enable them get petrol six or eight weeks before subsidies would be removed.
He explained, “Being proactive about planning is what is required here. We have to order products at most six weeks ahead of the removal. Because, it should not be that subsidy removal will be announced today, and then the market will be at a standstill. The worst thing that could happen would be announcing removal and then no product on ground to sell to consumers. Then, it means the scarcity would be worse than we have ever had. As we speak, we are all in the dark. We don’t know their plan, and we need to know.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of the association, Clement Isong, advised the incoming government to keep up and improve on the level of interaction with oil marketers.
“We are happy that the incoming government of Bola Tinubu, as we were told, has some experience in the downstream sector which we believe would be deployed in the right way in relating and dealing with issues,” he said.