Petroleum And Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) yesterday justified its support for fuel subsidy removal.
The oil workers at a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting ahead of its May 2023 national delegates conference in Abuja, believed that the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry will grow much more if that sector is deregulated.
PENGASSAN national president, Comrade Festus Osifo, who spoke with journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, said Nigeria would earn more in foreign exchange with the rehabilitation of local refineries to shore up reserves and support other imports where naira can appreciate.
According to Osifo, proceeds from the subsidy removal could be channeled to address the country’s infrastructural deficit, develop the education and healthcare sectors.
He said, “We believe that the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry will actually grow much more if that sector is deregulated and in the last seven years, we have actually maintained that stand. If we address this, the Nigerian government will earn more money from the crude oil sales and that money will go into the CBN, here it will shore up our reserves.
“So, we believe that if this is done, it has a way of having a positive impact on our foreign exchange which will in turn have an impact on the citizens…then we also want to encourage the government, If you remove the subsidy today, where are you going to put the money? For example, removing the subsidy can solve ASUU’s problem permanently, so ASUU will never go on strike again”.
“If we can also use it in addressing healthcare, That is another good one. But again, because of the trust deficit over the years, it is all it is always a problem. That is why labour and government will sit down to define the processes of the palliative that will be put in place for the Nigeria masses so that we will feel this impact when it’s finally done.
If you take some of this money and you use them to build hospitals, those hospitals will be everlasting. If you use this money to build quality roads, the roads will be there, if you use this money to address all the fundamentals that are affecting Nigeria, like the ASUU problem when you go to the universities and you address the infrastructural challenges that we have in our universities today. There will be there for a very long while,” he added.
On privatisation, Osifo said, “Our take on it has been very clear, government should fix the refinery, we do not support the sales of any of these refineries, will fight it with every arsenal at our disposal, fix the refinery, once you fix it government can now transit and become a minority shareholder.”