By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Petroleum and Energy Security (CONCSOPES) has expressed support for the deregulation of oil prices by the government.
The group expressed their support for the deregulation at a press conference on Saturday stating that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) risks bankruptcy if it continues to pay the subsidy.
The CSO also said the deregulation would liberalise the sector and allow petroleum product makers to source their supplies anywhere and sell at prices dictated by forces of demand and supply.
The convener of the coalition, Mr. Timothy Ademola, advised the labour leaders who have resisted the deregulation to realise that the supply of petroleum products have stabilized. He also urged Nigerians to be patient with the policy stating that when foreign exchange is stabilised, everyone would begin to see the fruits of deregulation and a free downstream market.
The coalition stated, “The competition arising from that (deregulation) would have helped to force pump prices down to the benefit of the citizens. But the scarcity of foreign exchange has made it difficult for the marketers to import products, thereby making NNPC the sole importer in keeping with its statutory role as marketer of last resort.
“This would most likely put NNPC in a very bad spot financially and eventually lead to a situation where it would be difficult to further import products. The obvious implication of that is fuel scarcity and the return of fuel queues.
“If this happens, organised labour that is presently resisting deregulation would be forced to castigate NNPC for not supplying enough fuel to guarantee zero fuel queues and for not making a profit at the end of its financial year.”