The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria has blamed the recent hike in the price of fuel partly on the alleged extortion by the operatives of the Department of State Services and the police and other levies by Federal Government agencies.
The National President of the association, Chinedu Okoronkwo, made the allegation at a public hearing convened by the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee on the recent hike in the pump price of fuel.
Okoronkwo added that IPMAN members no longer engage in the direct importation of fuel as they are presently owed about N250 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
This is just as he called on the Federal Government to instruct all its agencies to put a stop to arbitrary charges which are built into the price of fuel by marketers.
On how to address the challenges in the oil sector, the President recommended a switch to Compressed Natural Gas even as he added that the only way for Nigeria to make meaningful progress was to remove fuel subsidies to enable the government to save to fund critical infrastructure.
“In spite of the excruciating pain of subsidy removal, it is something that can act as a succour in the country if we must live and be happy.
“Energy everywhere is critical. It is on the security list of every nation and God has given us the best in gas that can last for over 500 years.
“What we require now is to build the market; the demand will be there. We need this House to help us build the market.
“Everyone is feeling the pinch, everyone has taken the bullet and palliatives are just for some time.
Also, a partner of IPMAN and the Managing Director of Gas Analytics and Sorutiral Index, Brian Amonu, said that Nigeria has more gas than crude oil.
Amonu noted that the reason a lot of gas is flared in the country today despite its environmental hazards is that there is no organised market for the product.
“This solution lies in the Central Bank of Nigeria; in it lies a N250 billion gas expansion facility.
“The objective of that facility is to support the utilisation of natural gas; we have written to CBN since last year way ahead of subsidy removal. We have had meetings convened by the former Finance Minister and the CBN, NNPCL, and other stakeholders and we told them the solution to subsidy removal can be implemented in one day.
“Nigerians, vehicle owners, and the state government should be given access to borrow N200,000 to convert their vehicle or tricycle from that N250 billion.
“That will catalyse investments along the value chain because you need to have a large pull of converted vehicles to justify the investment to deliver that gas to every part of the country.
“The solution is here, we have been preaching this since last year. The government does not have to do anything new; there is funding at CBN to support this.
“The only way natural gas can be a substitute is by providing loans for vehicle users; every country that transitioned from petrol subsidy to natural gas- India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran either gave free kits. Subsidise the kits or give access to loans to make it easy for people to convert vehicles and catalise investments,” he said.