March 16, 2022

Preventing aviation disasters

THE “dividends” of incompetent and corrupt governance in the petroleum sector by successive governments have really caught up with us on all fronts. We are now the laughingstock of our own people and the international community.

Nigeria is the only major oil-producing country that lacks indigenous refining capacity. Successive governments have failed to address this anomaly.

Because of the limitless corrupt opportunities that petroleum products importation and subsidies provide, our presidents hijack the petroleum portfolio without leveraging on that power to restore local refining.We now find ourselves in a situation where our transport sector is in utter crises.

Petroleum products scarcity has returned us to the hellish experience of long queues at the fuel stations and the attendant exorbitant prices. On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, a train from Ibadan heading to Lagos suddenly stopped in the wilderness because it ran out of fuel.

The following day, the House of Representatives summoned petroleum and aviation sector executives to find out why the airlines were on the verge of being grounded due to scarcity and exorbitant cost of aviation fuel. Airline operators lamented that aviation fuel was scarce due to hoarding and the cost had risen from N190 per litre to N670.

They called for price reduction to at least N200 per litre to ensure the safe continuation of operations. However, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, Limited, Malam Mele Kyari, disclosed that the landing cost of Jet Fuel was N400.

The only way the price could be reduced was to pay subsidy on it.The implication of all this is that the recent increase of one-hour flight fares to N50,000 minimum could worsen. Already, flight delays and cancellations have become the norm at the airports. Airlines may resort to cutting corners and compromising safety just to remain in business.

The current template in the governance of the petroleum sector is like patching old, worn-out knickers: the more you patch the more it develops holes. We may be forced to subsidise jet fuel, yet we do not have the funds to do so.

The economy is getting grounded.Importation of petroleum products must end. That is the only way out. We must do everything in our power to ensure that Dangote and other mushrooming modular refineries come into operation soonest.

Government must engage them by subsidising the cost of crude oil set aside for local consumption.

They can have different prices for export and internal supplies.In the meantime, everything possible must be done to keep our airlines safe, operational and at affordable prices.

Insecurity has hampered road travel, especially for VIPs. We must keep the economy going.

Vanguard News Nigeria