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State Governors Must Be Responsible For Oil Pipelines Protection---Rotimi Makinde

....Says FG Can't Sustain Subsidy Payment
By Ibrahim Babalola
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A member of the defunct 7th Assembly, Hon. Rotimi Makinde who represented Ife Federal Constituency at the National Assembly has made a declaration that fuel subsidy was an unsustainable drain on the Nigeria economy, just as he urged President Mohammadu Buhari to urgently deregulate the nation’s oil and gas sector in the interest of Nigeria.

In his view subsidy is a corruption market which over the years has created distortion in government revenue distribution due to round-tripping and unnecessary carryover of expenditures every year in a way that is difficult for government to control or sustain. According to him deregulation would encourage domestic private sector participation and inflow of foreign investments.

He contended that deregulation will also provide a fair deal for Nigerians from the abundant petroleum resources, through fair product prices for consumers, full cost recovery, and reasonable margins for operators.

At a chat with journalists in Lagos, he said: ‘‘It is appalling to hear that in the last five years the previous administration spent a questionable whopping sum of N6.354tr on subsidy.

‘‘Removal of price control mechanisms is deemed imperative to ensure full growth of the sub-sector, by allowing private stakeholders to complement the effort of government in developing the industry. It is irresponsible of the past government to admit that oil theft will remain and so based our budget with such in mind, it is also sad that we are yet to ascertain our consumption which to me was been exaggerated with intention to steal public fund." He said.

He reassured Nigerians that NNPC would continue to maintain stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products nationwide. He added that the Nigerian oil and gas industry would be transformed for greater efficiency and sustainable growth, through market reforms, diversification of the revenue base and monetisation of the natural gas resources.

Asked about what to be done on pipeline vandalism, Makinde said ‘‘Being a member of the committees on downstream and Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)in the 7th Assembly and a former staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), l sponsored a bill transferring the responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s network of oil pipelines to the States as against the current trend of contracting such role to private firms or militia groups by the Federal government is in the National Assembly. The bill was known as Bill for an Act to Amend the Oil Pipelines Act Cap 7 laws of the Federation 2004 to Provide for the Transfer of Protection of Oil Pipelines, Safety and Security Across the Federation to the States Governors and Other Matters Connected. The importance of oil and its installations to the nation’s economy cannot be over-stressed; and as such, the security and safety of such installations should no longer be handled with levity.’’

Makinde noted that since oil contributes about 90percent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings and about 25percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), it was high time government prioritized the safety of what has come to be the life-wire of the nation’s existence as a fledging economy in the 21st century.

He said: “Nigeria has a very good infrastructure for the transportation of refined petroleum products which is about 5,120km pipelines network connecting 21 oil depots and 19 pump stations. Regrettably, the pipelines are not in maximum economic utilization”.

“This is due to three main factors: (1) incessant illegal tapping by oil thieves, (2) sabotage, (3) poor management of pipeline; however, if the latter is remodeled, illegal tapping and sabotage would be tackled effectively”, he said.

Makinde said the intent of the Bill was not to usurp the powers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as contained in section 3 of its extant Act but to enable the States Governors whom as stated earlier are the Chief security officers of their various States working in collaboration with the NSCDC.

He urged the 8th National Assembly to take a look at the merits of the bill and offer it speedy passage in the interest of Nigeria, warning that the bill shouldn't be jettisoned like other bills. "I hope the bill will not die like any other bills as a result of me not been in the 8th assembly" he said. He equally reiterated that Buhari is truly the messiah Nigeria needs and that there is no doubt that the new Sheriff in town (Buhari) will take Nigeria to her promise land.