Abuja — SENATORS, yesterday, expressed indignation that Nigeria was now importing petroleum products from its northern neighbour, Niger.
The lawmakers who described it as the height of national embarrassment said it was the culmination of the systemic failure in the country's petroleum industry.
Among those who spoke were Senators Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP, Delta North; Domingo Obende, ACN, Edo North; and Ita Enang, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East. The immediate past chairman of the Senate Committee on Upstream Petroleum, Senator Lee Maeba also described it as a national shame.
Noting that too many things have gone wrong for the nation to be importing fuel from Niger Republic, Senator Okowa, said: "If we had developed our refineries, we would have got out of this. If they had developed the sector to allow private investors to come in, there would not have been stagnation in the sector. Too many things have gone wrong in the sector. For me wherever we import fuel is not important for now but we need to have appropriate plan to put things in order in the sector."
Senator Obende on his part said: "For me, it shows that if we cannot manage our oil sector, then something is wrong. I do not know when they started because we started first, and oil is our main stay, and that we cannot maintain our local consumption shows that something is wrong." Obende asked for a total overhaul of the sector.
Lamenting the development, Senator Enang said: "That will be a national shame, humiliation and embarrassment. The refinery in Niger was built with about $200 million and yet we have spent over $1 billion to do turn around maintenance in our refineries which are still not working. It is a shame and I pray that the fuel will not get into the car of any big man."
Senator Maeba on his part said: "Nigeria is a market hungry for petroleum products and so the country will go anywhere to get it where it is available. It is shameful that in a region where Nigeria is supposed to dominate in both supplies and in every other criteria that the country is now having to buy from a less endowed nation. It is rather shameful and funny."