Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and culture, says the problem of fuel scarcity will become a thing of the past in the country once the petroleum refinery being built by Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, comes on board.
According to Dangote Group, the refinery, which is targeting 650,000 barrels per day, will become operational by 2018.
Speaking when he visited Rutam House, headquarters of the Guardian Newspapers in Lagos, Mohammed said in addition to preparing existing refineries for optimal usage, government would license new investors to bring in modular refineries that would be sited close to the existing ones for access to crude.
He identified diversion of petroleum products to neighbouring countries as one of the major reasons for the ongoing scarcity of petrol.
The minister said when the current administration ended the “corrupt subsidy regime”, the independent marketers demanded for their outstanding payments before they could resume importation.
Mohammed said after government had paid the marketers over N594 billion subsidy arrears, they reneged on their promise to be importing fuel, leaving the task for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alone.
On signing of the 2016 budget, Mohammed said the economy would be reflated by increasing aggregate demand, increasing money supply and job opportunities
He said against the N13 billion earmarked for roads in the budget, N350 billion would be released to road contractors to get back to sites.
He said with this, millions of jobs would be created, and there would be more money in circulation.
The minister reiterated government’s decision not to award new road contracts, saying efforts would be on completion of projects abandoned by previous administrations.
He said it would no longer be business as usual, as government would ensure close supervision of projects, as well as ensure probity and accountability in the disbursement of funds.
On power, Mohammed said with the privatisation of the electricity generation and distribution companies, government no longer has absolute control over the sector.
He said lots of things went wrong with the privatisation process, with a misunderstanding of the sector as a “cash cow” rather than a long- term investment project.
Mohammed said the lack of a gas policy was also affecting the sector.
“Because there is no gas policy in place, the major oil players are laying claim to ownership of the gas on the ground, that it is a by-product from crude they are refining,” he said.
“Besides, in the international market, gas is sold for $4 per cubic metre, but we are buying slightly above 3$, so you can understand their problem.”
He said government had been trucking gas to power stations as a result of activities of pipelines vandals, particularly in the Niger Delta region.
He was received by Toke Ibru, executive director of the Newspaper, Emeka Izeze, editor-in-chief, and senior members of staff.