…Ex-Mobil Oil Top Shot, Segun Oyegbami, rues the systemic castration of the Nation’s social, political and economic life and ponders on the way forward.
An oil and gas marketer, Mr. Segun Oyegbami, has come out strongly to give backing to the recent moves by the Federal Government to remove all subsidies on energy and petroleum products’ tariffs in the country, saying ‘this step, if pursued with honesty and determination, will strengthen the growth and survival of the nation’s economy and stop the massive corruption in the sectors.’
The Oil and Gas marketer went further to blame ‘the organized religion for the seemingly intractable corruption ravaging public institutions and agencies of government in the country’.
Oyegbami, a former Sales Officer with the oil giant, Mobil Oil PLC, ideally, is not your archetypal economic analyst nor a critic. But deep down, he understands the workings of the nation’s main source of cash flow, the marketing of crude oil products. He has been in the industry since 1978.
Mr. Oyegbami spoke with FEFERITY MAGAZINE in his Ikeja Office during the week. He reflects on the recent crisis in the Oil and Power sector pricing by the Federal Government and says ‘it is long overdue’. He believes that ‘the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) is a fraud designed to rip off the masses of the people, especially the Southerners’.
He queried ‘why petroleum products should be sold at the same price in Lagos, Ogun and Bornu and Yobe. PEF is a policy whereby the costs of transportation of the products from the main depot in Lagos is defrayed under a nebulous policy of subsidy regime, so that the products can be sold at the same rate throughout the country’.
Ordinarily, Olusegun Olatunde Oyegbami, fast approaching the octogenarian age, does not fit the description of a critic nor an activist. All his life, he’s been a top player in the oil sector. Upon graduating from the Premier University, University of Ibadan in 1976, he was employed first as a Marketing Representatives by the omnibus Oil giant, Mobil Oil Producing and Marketing PLC. He rose to the position of an Area Manager before leaving the downstream sector to start an independent marketing of petroleum products.
But this background paled into insignificant in the face of daunting frustrations hunting various policies comatose in the energy sector in the country. The oil sector is stunted by various factors far outside the sector, mainly political. This frustration, according to him, led to the writing of a thought provoking book: Reversing the rot in Nigeria, currently on sale across the country.
According to him, ‘what sticks out like a sore thumb is that the payment for transportation of petroleum products round the country by the government is pointless and ultimately fraudulent insistence to make the price of the products the same all over the country through the operations of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, (PPRA)’, he says
‘Such payment called subsidy is absolutely unjustifiable from a socio-economic point of view, but it has been going on since 1975’, he continued further.
According to Mr. Oyegbami, ‘all prices increases of the petroleum products have been done continuously to provide money for the subsidy scheme’.
He was of the view that the subsidy is a means of subjugating the contributing parts of the country, mainly the South, to the receiving parts, now mainly the North. This renders the South vassals or subservient as a people.
He believed that subsidizing the Petroleum and Energy tariffs has truly helped no one to achieve the desired economic progress. Rather, it has built up a monumental corruption in the system.
He accused the top-level operators in the Oil industry of ‘blind corruption’. He cited the independent, marketers and government officials in Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and others.
Mr. Oyegbami further cited the ‘PEF as probably the most disingenuous scheme turned scam, forced on any human society to destroy its fabric in a surreptitious manner in the country’.
‘The intention’, he posited, ‘could have been laudable, even if ignorantly done initially. But from the deliberate systematic execution, ploys and cover-ups over the years, even when the objectives were not being realized, one is left with no option but to conclude that it was deviously planned, scrupulously operated and maintained to give unfair advantage to one group over others. This is regardless of the threat of eventual destruction of the whole system’.
He bemoaned the role of ‘corruption and injustice in stunting the development of the country. ‘Corruption and injustice reign, in direct contrast to the admonishing words of the National Anthem. It is a crying shame’, he lamented.
Mr. Oyegbami continued: ‘Unfortunately and paradoxically, religion, as exemplified by the Church and Mosque is at the heart of corruption in Nigeria’
He believed the corrupt practices in the Power, Oil and Gas sectors of the nation’s economy thrive for this long because the religion leaders, directly and indirectly profit from the slush funds, and therefore turned the blind eye to the rot in these sectors.
Mr. Oyegbami, author of a social commentary book, Reversing the rot in Nigeria, takes a critical look on the Nation’s economic, religious and political logjam, in a lucid and clean language that brings to the fore the various debates on the various policies that stunted the growth and development of the power, oil and gas sectors in the country.
Afolayan Adebiyi, writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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