By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA â€” PRESIDENT Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has said that the deregulation of the downstream sub-sector of the petroleum industry is inevitable, but that government is still holding consultations with stakeholders on the necessity of the action.
Speaking with Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Britainâ€™s Minister of State for Africa, at the State House, yesterday, President Yarâ€™Adua said: â€œWe are committed to deregulation, because we are convinced that subsidy distorts the system, encourages corruption and creates more problems than it solves. We are aware that initially, there will be pain, but these will be temporary and the whole nation will be the better for itâ€, he stated.
President Yarâ€™Adua said the Petroleum Industry Bill, now before the National Assembly, is aimed at repositioning the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to become a transparent, accountable and profitable business concern, existing without any budgetary provisions from government, and freed from its regulatory functions.
He assured Baroness Kinnock that after ongoing negotiations with international oil companies on the Billâ€™s fiscal regime, the interests of all stakeholders in the oil sector will be protected.
Responding to Baroness Kinnockâ€™s concern about electoral reform in Nigeria, President Yarâ€™Adua said political parties need more internal democracy, while all participants in the process must discharge their responsibilities according to the law.
The President said, â€œelectoral reform is necessary and it is within the capacity of the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act, but we must also realise that the role of political parties can be more devastating than the umpireâ€™s failingsâ€, adding that â€œwe need internal democracy in the political parties, development of a culture of putting national interests first, as well as conscientious discharge of functions by all officials involved in electoral jobsâ€.
The President also briefed the British Minister on the progress of the post-amnesty programme, and requested assistance from the British government on building capacity of those managing the programme; on the electoral reform process, as well as funding to execute the two programmes.
Earlier, Baroness Kinnock had commended President Yarâ€™Adua on the success of the amnesty programme and the banking reform and assured that Britain would assist in whatever way it can to ensure the success of the programmes.