Mrs. Grace Bose Olowofoyeku, the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive of Ascon Oil Group, a company involved in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry in a recent interview with Petroleum news disclosed that it is hellish doing business in Nigeria and also listed some of the factors that negatively affect businesses in the country.

She said; “Doing business in Nigeria is like hell. It can suck up all your energy because of the various government agencies you have to deal with daily. You fail at every attempt to succeed because you have too many bottlenecks to contend with. However, because I serve God diligently, He has seen us through all the tough times.

For some years now, the oil industry has witnessed a lot of instability as a result of currency instability and government policies. It has made it hard to plan. We used to bring in cargoes of fuel from abroad but now this is not possible, resulting in scarcity of the products for our numerous stations and drastic reduction in margins. The business has been so negatively affected that we now struggle to pay workers’ salaries in spite of massive cuts in staff strength.

Government institutions appear to be so oblivious of our challenges that there is constant frictions between them and various businesses. It is by the grace of God that we have not totally shut down. Government has been lacking the political will to allow open pricing of petroleum products. Subsidy retention has been a great constraint on our business.”

She also called on the Federal Government to urgently privatize Nigeria’s refineries saying; “In the first instance, government has no business running refineries. Government is only to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. It is hard to identify where government has ever managed business, successfully. There is generally lack of ownership in any government enterprise. Hence none of the government refineries has ever done well despite all the monies poured into them.

The solution to this malaise is privatisation. Private ownership will ensure commitment and better utilisation of resources to maximise production. The huge amounts of money that had been committed to the maintenance of these refineries over the years is enough to build several other refineries. No individuals or private organisations would spend such humongous amount of money to construct refineries that will not yield profits.”