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By NBF News
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Former Interior Minister, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, says the crisis in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry may not be resolved, unless it was deregulated to free it from government's strict price regulations and subsidy payments, while allowing market forces to determine products prices. Iheanacho, who is also the CEO of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, said even the on-going crisis over fuel subsidy payments would only end if the industry is deregulated.

'The fuel subsidy payments is not even benefitting the poor, who are the original government target,' he said.'It is the rich, who own cars, SUVs, trucks, and are going in and out of filling stations day-in-day-out that are benefitting. Deregulation remains the best option for us; until the industry is deregulated the issues of claim payments will not end,' he added. Iheanacho, who was reacting to a recent publication listing some oil marketing firms as benefiting from the fuel subsidy payment policy said, rather than benefit, oil marketing firms involved in products imports for distribution was having the worse of times.

'We are owed a lot of money running into billions of naira by the government. In fact, under the scheme it is the banks who get-reimbursed first, so I wonder where the oil firms are making the money to be ripping off the system,' he said. Iheanacho also debunked allegations that his company defraud the Petroleum Ministry of about N13 billion being unmerited claims collected as subsidies paid on fuel it imported and sold in the country.

Iheanacho, in an interview with Daily Sun, on Wednesday, faulted the allegations, based on a report of the House of Representatives' Ad-Hoc Committee on the Management of Fuel Subsidy, listing it amongst 69 oil marketing firms that collected unmerited subsidy and demanding a refund of about N241.24 billion. Said Iheanacho: 'This company certainly does not owe anyone anything at all, not to talk about an imaginary N13 billion.