By Jimitota ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT: PIPELINE Professionals Association of Nigeria, PLAN, has kicked against removal of subsidy on petroleum products, saying it would worsen challenges being faced by the poor in the country.
In a statement issued at the end of its 15th General Technical session in Warri, the group said government should suspend total removal of subsidy on the product until refining capacity in the country had reached optimal level.
The statement signed by its executive Chair, Dr Joseph Dorgu , national publicity secretary, Mr Olusola Aloba , and three others, said the price of petroleum products should also be reduced before government contemplates total removal of subsidy.
According to the body, withdrawal of subsidy at this time would amount to removal of the only social welfare and security available to the poor in the country.
“The call for subsidy removal was tantamount to removing the only social welfare/security available to the masses. The 1.3tn subsidy equates to N8k ($50)/capita (approx. ¦ 21 ($0.13) p/day). This is measly when benchmarked with Wage Poverty ¦ 27,000 vs. Wage Survival H” ¦ 100,000 – 150,000 vs.
Wage Living ¦ 150,000 for a family of 6 in the city. The partial removal of subsidy in 2012, saw a 50-100% price hike in bread and butter issues including, but not limited to: transportation, food stuff; rent etc, resulting in continuous untold hardship on a majority of the population.
The discussion should continue but, total removal be shelved until such a time the refining capacity of the country have attained optimal levels and products price had reduced, as subsidy predominantly speaks to defraying the cost of logistic and not refining”, the group said.
Participants at the conference with the theme, “Pipeline systems: The Impact on HSEQ and Regional economy”, also called for communities to be made active in the oil economy in their area.
“Communities should be given a tangible sense of ownership via clearly defined stakeholder portfolios, transparency and engagement versus the ‘Trust Me’ model in existence”.
The group further called for greater transparency in the operations of government at the federal and state levels, adding that the federal government should consolidate on the gains of its amnesty program in the region.
On the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram, it advised the government to build it actions around what it termed ideology, stressing that the situation that gave rise to amnesty in the Niger Delta could be similar, but the ideological premises were different. .
“With regard to amnesty in the Niger Delta and for Boko Haram, but took the view that the modes though similar stemmed from contrasting ideological premises i.e. strategic expressionism vs. puritanical culturism; thus to resolve any conflict, ‘ideology should be met with ideology’.
The lesson of note is that, where force and conciliation fight, ultimately force suffers and conciliation triumphs. Evolution, in a contemporary world, must trump Revolution; it is easier to destroy than to rebuild.
With regards to the Niger Delta expressionists, the association did note that in an ironic twist, the attendant struggle appeared to have fast-tracked the Nigerianisation and Local Content initiatives within the oil and gas sectors. Efforts must be made to avoid a relapse of the conflict in the Niger Delta in future”.
Papers presented at the conference were, Submarine pipeline protection and flood defence products”, power reform vis a vis pipe system and pipeline system: impact on HSEQ and regional economy (an overview).