By: Abayomi Adeshida
The Federal Government has been urged to deploy available human resources within the world-class professionals among Nigerians in the Diaspora to find a lasting solution the incessant hike in utility tariffs that can erode the confidence the people have built in the leadership of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
As a form of contribution, an America based group, the Nigeria Diaspora Network has offered to assist the government in the areas of power generation and distribution as well as to help with a lasting solution to the majority of the challenges of the citizens would encounter due to the implementation of the policy of the government to fully deregulate the oil sector of the economy.
The International Coordinator of the group Samuel Atolaiye told journalists during a virtual media chat that the current challenges being experienced by Nigerians are normal with developing countries that eventually overcome all their unpleasant developmental experiences.
According to Atolaiye who was born in Kogi State but based in Maryland, United States of America, Nigeria is blessed with enough human resources, “many of who are doing excellently abroad and willing to return home to contribute to the greatness of the country and end the recurrence cycle of poverty and hunger in the land.
“Successive governments have all made spirited attempts to make a mark in the lives of the people, but the current government is in the best position to cap all the efforts with the deployment of diaspora professional volunteers in different fields of human endeavour to bring back their wealth of experience in all the fields of human calling.
“Our members are capable and willing to assist the government to ensure uninterrupted power supply round the clock in the country, for example, we have professionals who are experts in alternative sources of energy.
“These folks are ready to provide their services to review the existing policy and recommend improvement and assist the Government with customized best practices ideas and standards.
“These ideas when properly implemented will provide efficiency and make life more affordable for the citizens of this country. It is time Nigerians pay more attention to solar and wind energy which can ensure that they get what they pay for.
“Nigerians are willing and indeed prepared to pay for electricity which is a necessity in their day to day lives. The real issue is not the cost, but more about the service delivery which is ineffective.
” It is reasonable and fair that the increase in tariff should only come up after there is an improvement in supply. Our belief is that the Government is not insensitive to the complaints of the common man and is working to ensure that people needs are addressed by making the DisCos to do what is statutorily required of them in order to justify their existence in the power value chain in the country.” he submitted.
Atolaiye urged Nigerians to look beyond the initial pains of the recent increase in the pump prices of petroleum products but admonished the government for the ill-timing of a dual rise in the costs of petroleum products and electricity tariff.
“The timing of the implementation of both tariffs for petrol and Electricity was a coincidence. The electricity tariffs increase was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold to enable further studies and proper arrangements to be made.
“The implementation of Meter Asset Provider, MAP, the regulation introduced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC in 2018 was to ensure that electricity customers only pay for what they actually consume but this has not been the case in Nigeria.
” As a result of the problems with the privatization exercise, the government has had to keep supporting the largely privatized electricity industry. So far to keep the industry going, the Government had spent almost 1.7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls. Any responsible Government cannot continue to borrow to subsidize a generation and distribution which are both privatized. That will not be in the best interest of the Citizens.
“There is no doubt that this singular action of the Government might take a heavy toll on the ruling party APC. However, that should not be an excuse for any responsible Government to folds its arms and do nothing. This is the reason why Nigerians should appreciate the bold step that President Buhari and the ruling party has taken on the issue of the subsidy.
“A good leader isn’t simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision. Our opinion is that the APC led administration took this decision to eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products.
“This decision by the Government will allow the market to determine their prices without Government interference which in the long run will be good for the economy. People might hate the APC Government for taking this bold steps now, the opposition will no doubt use this against the Government but in no distance future when people start experiencing the effect of the removal in the form of better development of state of art hospitals, rehabilitation of roads and then, they will thank the Government for this bold step.
“The people in Government including the President have been elected to lead and to serve the people that elected them. The government should not have the attitude of “ take it or leave it’. No, that should not be the attitude.
“The attitude now is to educate Nigerians on why the decision to remove the subsidy was taken which included Subsidy payment that had continued to increase over the years, hitting N1.149trn in 2019 which was the year when only a mere $1bn (N387bn) was provided in the budget.
“This development had resulted in a massive deficit budget which the government had to patch through borrowing. The Government has to take some reasonable decisions to save the country from economic collapse.
“Above all, there should be a complete restructuring of NNPC and its affiliates. The Government should show transparency by raising a team of project planners reporting directly to the president to plan and manage projects from the gains/proceeds that may be realized from the subsidy removal.
“Nigeria still has a long way to go in establishing refineries that are capable of producing at full potentials. Modular Refineries are ideally suited for remote locations and are viable for investments by Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as a source of rapid production of primary fuel products and raw materials for Petrochemical Downstream Industries.
“The conditions required to make such an investment in modular refinery workable will include proximity and access to crude supply; location to sizable markets with logistics advantages and of course Government incentives
“Modular refineries are viable as they can be sited in the areas where access to petroleum products at present seems to be very difficult due to logistics. These type of refineries which can be built in a short span of time will allow the indigenous people with low capital investment to own refineries and provide employment for the Nigerian people.
“For the success of the modular refineries, the Government must provide incentives like tax break and a well-balanced legal and regulatory framework to promote investments and guarantee returns on investments. In conclusion, this type of refinery can provide the immediate solution to stabilize the petrol pricing in the downstream,” he concluded.