Emeka Okereke, the Director-General of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, on Tuesday said the country had lost fortune through decades of crude oil exportation.
Okereke, who said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, described the situation as a “huge national economic waste”.
According to him, the country failed to realise that petroleum by-products were essential elements that could grow the economy.
He said asphalt, lubricants, sulphur, wax and other petroleum by-products were vital raw materials for agriculture, manufacturing, construction and other key sectors of the economy.
According to him, developing the value chain for those products locally has a huge potential for economic diversification, job creation and poverty reduction.
NAN reports that over 6,000 items, many of them end-user products, are made from petroleum waste by-products.
The items include toothpastes, fertilisers, perfumes, insecticides, petroleum jelly and soap.
Others include vitamin capsules, ink, tyres, nail polish, clothesline, cassettes, shoe polish and vehicle parts.
Okereke said: “The Federal Government should take bold steps to tackle the issue of wastage of essential petroleum by-products through exportation of our crude oil.
“Concrete measures are needed to either build modular refineries or revive the existing three refineries through public private partnership arrangements.
“This is very necessary to ensure that our crude oil is refined locally and the leakages in the management of the petroleum resource blocked.”
It would be recalled that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, recently said it was cheaper to import petrol at the moment than to refine it locally.
Kachikwu told newsmen in Abuja that until the refineries were brought back on stream and all the vandalised pipelines fixed, local refining would be uneconomic.
The ECCIMA DG, however. blamed the collapse of the country’s oil infrastructure on neglect by previous administrations.
He, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration to end the circle of ineptitude in the management of the sector.