Mr Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, says any call for removal of petroleum subsidy can only be done through amendment of Price Control Act 1977. He said the amendment cannot be by presidential fiat or government policy.
Dogara said this while addressing national executives of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), led by its President, Chinedu Okoronkwo in Abuja on Monday.
“As a legislator, I can tell you there is something about subsidy removal that we are not looking at. “If you look at Section 4 of the Price Control Act, it talks about regulating the prices of products that are listed in the First Schedule of the Act.
“One of the products listed in the first schedule is petroleum. So by law in this country, we must control the price of petroleum products.’’
According to the Speaker, the law passed by parliament gives the responsibility of adding up items on the schedule to the Price Regulating Board. “I am not sure we have that board in place. So, for any discussion to be meaningful, you have to put pressure on the executive. It is not the legislative work to constitute the board.’’ He explained that members of the board could remove petroleum product from the schedule of the Act.
The Speaker, who expressed regrets over the failure of past administration to encourage domestic refining of the nation’s crude oil, described Nigeria as laughing stock among comity of nations. “I don’t know if there is any country that produces oil like Nigeria that refines outside its shores. “For me, it is illegal; this is most inexcusable because we have turned this nation into a laughing stock.
“Why is it that we can’t refine oil here? Why is it that in an oil producing country, citizens have to queue for nine hours to buy a product that should just be there? “This is something that I believe that with your expertise, you need to leverage on.”
Okoronkwo, IPMAN President assured that efforts were in top gear to ensure successful implementation of the $4 billion refinery projects in Itobe, Kogi state and Aggeh, Bayelsa state.
According to him, the core investors Watercarbon File of Peru and their training arm, Blue Oil in London, will be paying a working visit to Nigeria for further discussion on the project.
He said, “the government and people of Kogi have given us about 1,385 hectares of land near Itobe river. “Right now, the drawing and necessary works are on going, we are awaiting the licence to kick-start the project. “We intend to build about 200,000 barrel a day refinery there and another 200,000 barrel a day in Bayelsa”, he said.