The Federal Government suspended the proposed sale the nation’s four refineries in order to ensure the stability of the political environment, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, has said.
Maku, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, said although the Federal Government believed in the benefits of privatising the refineries to the Nigerian economy, a decision on the sale would be taken when critical stakeholders come to an agreement on the need for the action.
Making a reference to the protests that greeted the deregulation of the pump prices of petroleum products on January 1, 2012, the minister said any instability now could stress the economy, adding that there was a need for all critical stakeholders to appreciate the need for the sale of the refineries.
He said, “We have a huge challenge winning citizens to appreciate that the deregulation will be to the advantage of the economy and the welfare of the citizens. In every political system, unless the people are won over, even when your policies are right, you can create a major problem as we saw in January 2012 when we brought up the issue of deregulation.
“The media, the civil society, political organisations and everybody was up in arms against the government. You have to weigh the options. Stability is very crucial to the realisation of national objectives.”
The minister said without stability, a lot of costs would be incurred in trying to win the citizens’ hearts and stabilising economic activities, adding that up until now, the country was still having the challenge of winning Nigerians to its side because the issue of deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry had been politicised.
Maku added, “Every political opponent is busy trying to show that he loves the citizens more than the other party. So, in the course of this, we believe that Nigerians will come to see the losses we are sustaining today by keeping this wrong economic regulation in place.”