By Muhaimin Olowoporoku

President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria will become a net exporter of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, and other petroleum products.

The president said this on Tuesday at the virtual inauguration of the 5,000 barrels per day Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State.

According to Buhari, Nigeria would become a worldwide exporter of petroleum products after the realisation of the Refinery Roadmap rolled out in 2018. The president stated that the deployment of modular refineries is one of the four key elements of his administration.

“There is increased momentum in the other three focus areas under the roadmap covering the rehabilitation of existing refineries, co-location of new refineries, and construction of greenfield refineries,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.

The President added: “The realisation of the refinery roadmap will ultimately lead us to become a net exporter of petroleum products not only to our neighbouring countries but to the worldwide market.

“This modular refinery is the largest commissioned modular refinery in the country today.”

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Earlier, Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources announced on Friday, 20th Nov in a statement that Nigeria is set to resume the importation of petroleum products from Niger Republic.

According to the ministry, Nigeria and Niger Republic signed a Memorandum of Understanding for petroleum products transportation and storage.

After the MoU was signed, Minister of State for Petroleum, Çhief Timipre Sylva said it is a major step forward. “Niger Republic has some excess products which need to be evacuated. Nigeria has the market for these products. Therefore, this is going to be a win-win relation for both countries, the minister said.

News that Nigeria would begin importing fuel from neighbouring Niger sparked serious controversy in the country. A lot of Nigerians reacted on Twitter questioning the need for fuel importation from Niger. Many also knocked the government over its inability to keep the country’s refineries running.

Timipre Sylva, on Monday 23 Nov. while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme said that Nigerians should be proud that the Federal Government would resume the importation of petroleum products from Niger Republic.

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The minister said Nigeria is a big market that needs excess fuel products processed in other countries.

Sylva said contrary to comments by critics of the government, the plan by the Federal Government to resume fuel importation from its West African brother should not be seen as ‘an embarrassment’ but rather as a means of encouraging intra-regional trade.

Sylva said, “I don’t see that as an embarrassment at all. As a country, Nigeria is a big market, we need products, even if all our refineries were functioning, we will still need extra products.

In the wake of the recent increase in the pump price of petrol in Nigeria, President Buhari believes the establishment of modular refineries in the country will make petroleum products available and eliminate importation.