In order to guide against a policy reversal, a consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has asked the federal government to give legal backing to the deregulation drive of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The consortium called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to demonstrate an honest commitment to the deregulation efforts by expunging the laws that entrench the potential of returning to a subsidy regime
Particularly, they asked government to repeal the PPPRA Act, the PEF(M)B Act and the Price Control Act specifically, section 6(1) of the Petroleum Act, Schedule 1 of the Price Control Act, and all Acts that ensure a potential of returning to a price fixing regime and demonstrate to the Nigerian people that the ‘declaration of full deregulation’ is fully committed to.
To this end, the group urged government to either enact an appropriate stand-alone legislation or embed it as part of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) expected to be submitted to the National Assembly soon.
The consortium made up of no fewer than 15 media and civil society organisations working to ensure transformation of the extractive sector, also demanded that the government commences moves to repeal the laws establishing the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to signal its commitment to the full deregulation of the sub-sector.
According to the consortium, “there is need for the Federal Government to commit to the sustainability of the deregulation regime by entreating it in law, either through a stand-alone legislation, or through appropriate clauses integrated into the PIB to allow for the sustainability of the no-subsidy regime.
“While we await appropriate legislation, we require the government to clarify the role of the Petroleum Support Fund in the new deregulation regime. Clarity is required about how that fund is being managed, whether the over-recovery sums were deposited there and how they are expected to be spent,” a communique issued at the end of its one-day webinar stated.
It also urged government to empower appropriate agencies such as the Federal Competition and Consumer Council to take over the consumer protection interests of Nigerians and guide against exploitation in the hands of profiteering marketers.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also urged to ensure a level-playing field for all importers of Premium Motor Spirit and not place the NNPC at an advantage over others, while also calling on the NNPC to take urgent practical steps to reverse the fortunes of the loss-making refineries as revealed in its published 2018 Audited Reports of its Subsidiaries.
On palliatives, the group entreated the government to “channel the revenues used for subsidy to improve the lives of its originally intended beneficiaries; poor Nigerians and not the rich, by investing in enablers of economic growth and development such as development of rural roads, education, health services and agriculture.”
The consortium which had earlier issued a 10-point recommendation in May 2020 in a bid to support the government’s attempt to achieve sustainable deregulation of the downstream sector, was formed in April 2020 and spearheaded by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC).
It comprised of the following civil society organizations; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), BudgIT, Connected Development (CODE), Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI), OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Women in Extractives (WiE), Extractive 360, Youth Forum on Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (Youth Forum on EITI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP), among others.