Donald Duke, Nigeria’s presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) warns that “the oil and gas sector are too important to Nigeria’s economy to play politics with.
He said, “petroleum is one commodity that defines our economy. Decisions regarding petroleum products have far-reaching implications on the economy, and therefore, have to be taken after due consideration of all relevant factors.”
The presidential candidate of the SDP, in a statement by Kammonke Abam, his media aide, warned against the politicization of the pump price of petroleum products in Nigeria; saying prices are not determined by presidential fiat, but rather by several variables such as cost of production and the dynamics of market forces.
“Nigerians should not be deceived by politicians who want to cash in on the gullible public by promising to do things which are not realistic just to get votes from the electorates,” Duke said.
According to him, “while it is important to lower the pump price of petroleum products as a way of making life easy for Nigerians, it cannot be done in isolation of all key variables, and therefore, should not be used as a tool of politics.”
He said that lowering the prices of petroleum products through government subsidy is a short-term measure, which needs to be combined with long-term measures such as; refining of our crude oil locally and ultimately putting an end to the importation of refined products.
“Similarly, another critical measure is to explore other non-oil energy options going forward,” Duke said.
He said Nigerian leaders should be concerned about solving the plethora of challenges that have beset the oil industry such as, inadequate supply of products due to frequent breakdown of the local refineries, incessant pipeline vandalism and bureaucratic delays in discharging imported products rather than making promises that are farfetched.
The former governor of Cross of River State (1999-2007) outlined other challenges facing the Nigeria oil industry to include: strike actions by labour unions, product hoarding and diversion by unscrupulous marketers, dependence on imported products and changes in market fundamentals of crude oil and refined products in the international markets, obsolete equipment at refineries, continued encroachment on pipeline right of way, unscheduled shutdown of the refineries which results in disruption of products supply, among others.
Duke also believes that the nation’s economy needs to be diversified so as to lower pressure on oil as the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
He cited example of what he did in Cross River State as governor in 1999-2007, when he made the Cross State economy to be majorly tourism-based, turning the state into a preferred destination in sub-Sahara West Africa.
He said, “what my administration did was to take advantage of the rich ecotourism potential of Cross River state, and developed complimentary products such as the Slave Trade Museum, Tinapa Business & Leisure Resort, Obudu Ranch Resort, Marina Resort, the Leboku New Yam Festival, Nkarasi Monoliths, among others.”
The SDP presidential candidate said this investment in tourism of over N10 billion then, boosted the state’s economy and improved the wellbeing of the people of the state.