Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has said that Nigerians should be proud that its government is set to resume the importation of petroleum products from Niger Republic.
Sylva said the proposed fuel importation arrangement from a fellow West African country should not be seen as ‘an embarrassment’ but be taken as a way of encouraging intra-regional trade.
The minister’s position is contrary to comments by critics of the government, who saw the plan by the Federal Government to resume fuel importation from the neighbouring Niger Republic as a ruse.
The Ministry of Petroleum Resources had, in a statement, last Thursday, announced Nigeria’s decision to import fuel from Niger after the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding for petroleum products transportation and storage.
The ministry in its statement informed that, the Niger Republic’s Soraz Refinery in Zinder, some 260km from the Nigerian border, had an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.
Sylva, who reacted to critics comments Monday evening while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, said Nigeria is a big market that needs excess fuel products processed in other countries.
“I don’t see that as an embarrassment at all. As a country, Nigeria is a big market, we need products, even if all our refineries were functioning, we will still need extra products.
“Niger Republic produces oil and they are landlocked as a country. They have a refinery that produces in excess of what they require as a country and they offered to sell to us in Nigeria because this is a bigger market.
“In the spirit of regional cooperation, regional trade development, we decided to buy from them. I don’t see anything wrong with that. If your neighbour is producing something that is required in your country and you buy from him, why is that a big problem?
“So, we agreed with Niger to buy the excess of what they don’t require in Niger because this is a big market.”
“Nigerians should be proud that we are doing that to encourage sub-regional trade because we have been talking about sub-regional trade for a long time and this is how it should be between neighbouring countries. Niger should import from us what we have and we should be able to import from Niger what they have. Let us encourage intra-regional trade and this is one good example of trading within West Africa,” Sylva said.