United for Better Nigeria (UFBN), a socio-cultural group, has warned against plans to scrap Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), saying that it will spell doom.
It said that such action would cause more hardship in Nigeria.
The Chairman of UFBN, Chief Olumide Mayowa, issued the warning at a forum organized by oil marketers in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that scrapping of PEF could spiral increases in prices of petroleum products and subsequently affect prices of foodstuff and other items.
“PEF has been of immense assistance to all Nigerians because the transport and bridging claims which is paid for the movement of products across the country makes the cost of petroleum products almost the same no matter the location.’’
“If you scrap PEF and it means total deregulation and transporters will have no choice but to transfer the cost of the movement of products to the consumers and that will be unfortunate.
“I tell you that the least a liter of petrol will cost when total deregulation is implemented will be N250 per litre in cities like Abuja and N350 per litre for Maiduguri and other towns in the far North,’’ he said.
He explained that the country should not deregulate to the detriment of its people.
He wondered why the agitation to get rid of PEF whereas pipelines and the rail lines across the country were not functional.
“Even if they are functional, what security guarantees are there to ensure that products get to their destinations without militants and other restive groups blowing up the pipelines or cause train accidents.
“I heard that the Independent Petroleum Marketers have set up a task force that will ensure the safety of products being piped and am wondering what they hope to achieve considering the fact that almost all the security agencies have been experiencing an uphill task in efforts to achieve the same feat.
“For us the best thing is for the government to strengthen PEF for it to function better.
“It took six weeks to complete a 3.6 kilometres runway at Abuja international airport. I wonder how many years it will take to fix the hundreds of kilometres of rail lines and secure hundreds of kilometres of pipelines for the movement of products,’’ Mayowa said.
He observed that road transport would continue to be the only means for distributing petroleum products to some states in the far North because there were no pipeline linking such states.
“Government should not forget that the attempts at full deregulation soon after this administration assumed office led to increase in the pump price of petrol.
“That should serve as a lesson while raising issues on the desirability or not of PEF. I do not think it is necessary to touch that organization, at least for now,’’ Mayowa said.