Following the prevailing hike in gas price, the National President of the Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, Mr Olatunbosun Oladagbo, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to order the suspension of charges on gas imports.
He said the measure had become imperative in view of the absence of functional refineries for local production.
Speaking on ARISE News Channel, he said the president should, as a matter of urgent national emergency, emplace a waiver for gas imports in order to reduce spiralling gas price.
He said Nigeria produced only 550 metric tonnes which was insufficient while the rest were imports.
Oladagbo said gas prices would remain high since there was no gas imports.
“President Buhari needs to authorise a waiver for gas imports so that the price can come down.
Nigeria needs to suspend charges on import gas so that marketers can settle with counterparts and we also need to bring in investors.
“Now 10.5kg is N10,000, 20 metric tonnes is N11.6 million. If it’s not done, the price will continue to go up”, he said.
“Nobody is bringing gas into the country. It is the intervention of Mr President that will save the situation”, he said.
He maintained that government should suspend the charges on import gas pending when Nigeria would be ready to produce sufficient gas locally.
“Yes, everything we do we call on government but this is business. Nobody all over the world leaves business to the forces of demand and supply. Anything that is essential, you don’t leave it because if you leave it, those who have upper hand will hijack it and the masses will suffer.
“What will government do? They need to suspend charges on import gas pending the time we will be able to produce domestically and that will take five to seven years. NNLG Train 7 will come up in the next five years and our population is growing”, he said.
The ALPGM boss said: “Our refineries are not working. If four refineries are fixed and are producing and they are working, people will now start exploration and the local production of gas will increase.
“We have a lot of abundant deposit but we need investors to come in and what will attract investor is the capacity of people to buy”.
When the price goes up, people will not buy. So we must create market and affordable market that will attract investors”.
He was emphatic that “government needs to suspend all the charges, import duties and if it is possible, give access. I know we have limitation with forex but this is an essential product, there is a way government can make it easy so that people can settle with their counterparts and make this product available”.
According to him, “If gas is available, life will be more meaningful. If the president, the Minister of Petroleum needs to present this case to Mr president, on befalf of Nigerians so that Mr President can sign the waiver for these charges, then the importer will be able to import gas so the prices will come down. It may not come down to what it used to be”.
He predicted that if no action is taken between now and January, moving forward, Nigerians would be in dire straits.
“As at today, a 10.5kg is sold for N10,000 depending on the location and it is going up. 20 metric tonnes is sold for N11.6 million, January, we bought it at N3.8 million and it has not stopped, we are going to December so if there is no intervention now by January to December, Nigerians will find it difficult to live a good life, the price will increase and the window is closed because nobody is bringing gas and the one we have is insufficient”, he said.
Oladagbo further argued that “when there is scarcity, the middlemen welcomes it. It is the intervention of the minister that will save Nigerians, save our future, save us from deforestation and make the business to grow and finally, it will attract private investors”.