Timipre Sylva, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, has asked citizens to be proud of the country for the importation of refined petrol from neighbouring Niger Republic.
Niger is one of the poorest nations in the world but has succeeded in developing its refinery to produce at a greater capacity than its very rich neighbour, Nigeria.
The decision to import petroleum products from Niger, which was announced last week Thursday, angered Nigerians, who described it as an act of retrogression for the country.
Sylva said, “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 they have and we should be able to import from Niger what they have. Let us encourage intra-regional.