A former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, Mr. Sunday Adebayo Babalola, has cautioned the federal government against act of fixing the pump price of fuel.
He said market forces should determine the appropriate price for petrol whenever the commodity is deregulated in line with the best practices so as to avoid further corruption in the oil sector.
Last week, the federal government, through the Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) announced hike in the ex-depot price of fuel to N157.
Babalola, an expert in oil and gas, spoke with journalists in Ilorin yesterday when he was conferred with the Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Management and Leadership (FCIML).
He noted that the government’s regulation of fuel price has encouraged corrupt practices in the petroleum sector.
He added that dealers in the industry should be allowed to dispense the product and recoup the profit therein.
The former governorship aspirant maintained that the real deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry would bring about competition as obtainable in the telecommunication sector.
“Considering the economic reality of the moment, one will probably want to say it (hike in fuel price) is not justified. But in reality, it is the best decision and I think they are not even doing it right. When you deregulate, you don’t fix price. Let everybody sell as they buy and make their profit.
“For example, when the telephone companies came into the country, we were making calls at N50 per minute. Even if you used only one second, they charged you N50. But when competition came, the whole thing went down. Today, it (phone call) is about N7, and the exchange rate is even worse than it was at the time they came in. What is the cause? Competition.
“Competition will always create allowance for efficiency and effectiveness. It is not right for government to be regulating things. They (government) can make policies that will ensure that the average man is not overburdened. But you cannot regulate anything.
“Regulating it (fuel) before has created a lot of corruption. You remember one year we budgeted N450billion for (fuel) subsidy. The same year we eventually spent N1.8trillion. How? Did the number of vehicles increase? Did the light increase? It was simply corruption, and deregulation is actually the whole essence of it,” he said.
On the award conferred on him, the erstwhile gubernatorial aspirant thanked the authorities of the institute for finding him worthy, adding that “I feel elated and happy like somebody who has just won a very big prize”.
The conferment was performed by the Director of West Africa Operations, Chartered Institute of Management and Leadership, Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA, Professor Asiwaju Busari, on behalf of the governing council at the annual convocation and induction ceremony of the institute in Ilorin.
Babalola congratulated Associate members and others in the institute, urging them to use the knowledge acquired to do good job that will touch humanity positively.