Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has reassured that the lingering fuel scarcity will end in Abuja and Lagos today.
The minister, who was speaking in Abuja yesterday at a town hall meeting when he visited the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), also stated that Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Port Harcourt and Warri would also experience relief from the crisis as the queues would disappear at the weekend in those places.
While noting that strategic policies need to be taken to avoid recurrence of the crisis, he said, “There isn’t sufficient reason why Nigerians should suffer this much, we just need to take the right policies as difficult as it comes. We need to take the right policies to ensure that we do not have this recurrence of fuel scarcity. It’s been with us historically, but I don’t want that to define my legacy in the petroleum industry.
“Hopefully, by tomorrow (today) through Thursday, the fuel queues in Abuja should be over. Hopefully the same thing will happen to Lagos and thereafter, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Port Harcourt and Warri get off this state.”
He observed that fuel queues were less in the states because people were paying more to get the product, saying there was some statistical philosophy that ought to be looked at in terms of whether the product was rightly priced. The minister, who hinted on a possible privatisation of the sector as lasting solution to its funding crisis, also explained that the country needed more robust strategic reserve for timely response to fuel shortages.
He said: “What concerns me more is not getting the present queues out; that will definitely wear out. What concerns me more is how you avoid having fuel scarcity ever again in this country; and to do that, there are certain things we need to do. First is that strategic reserve has not been in this country for over 20 years. We need to bring back strategic reserve that should serve 60 to 90 days type of product hold so that we can respond within a matter of hours when there is shortage in any part of the country.
“Second, we need to find how to handle allocation of resources. For the first time, I have been able to convince the major oil producers to allocate scarce foreign exchange to the downstream players to enable them bring in product. But that’s not a futuristic long term solution, so we need to find a way of being able to fund this sector to do its work. And there is no better way than to steer it to that path of privatisation; we are going to have to look at that.”
Kachikwu, however, maintained that the possible privatisation of the sector would not necessary be synonymous with an increase in price, adding that the price modulation mechanism in place, would ensure appropriate pricing.
Debunking reports that government had returned to subsidising fuel subsidy, Kachikwu explained that “the reality is that the first two months of price modulation, our recovery enabled us to save quite a lot of money and that is going to fund the gap that you see in April. But from May, obviously, the price would be adjusted to match the current trend.”
The minister, who pointed out that there wasn’t any problem without a solution, noted that what needed to be done was to research thoroughly, find solution and execute it.
He said that was what he had been doing, “because the petroleum ministry is the last hope of Nigeria, we are the 90 per cent earner, we are the foreign exchange galvaniser, if we fail, this country fails, like we almost did.”
He stressed the need to ensure accountability and professionalism in the operations of the sector, adding, “Everything we do is a mirror of what Nigeria needs to do to be successful as a country. If there is no power, we complain, but if there is no fuel, we will bring down this country. If there is fraud anywhere, we will say well, that is OK, but if there is fraud in NNPC, we will bring down this country and what it says to you is that so much is expected of this ministry and we must take leadership.”
IPMAN denies responsibility for fuel scarcity
The national operations controller and the immediate past association national secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr Mike Osatuyi has debunked reports that his IPMAN claimed responsibility on Monday for the lingering fuel scarcity across the country.
A statement credited to Mr Lawson Ngoa, who claimed to be the interim management secretary of IPMAN, had blamed the fuel crisis on the association.
But Mr. Osatuyi, in a statement yesterday, said Mr. Ngoa was a mere fifth columnist and was working for the Petroleum Resources Ministry.
“Mr Lawson Ngoa is not a member of IPMAN, but an agent of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources brought in to mediate in the internal crisis of IPMAN”.
According to him, “While the intervention of the minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu in resolving the internal crisis in IPMAN is appreciated and commendable, the forefathers, past presidents, leaders of IPMAN and the general members of IPMAN nationwide will not allow Mr Lawson Ngoa, who is not a marketer, less an IPMAN member, to use IPMAN as a shield to defend or protect a system failure of NNPC.
He said “It is pure defamation of IPMAN’s image to go on air that IPMAN had accepted the responsibility for the scarcity of Petroleum Products and that Nigerians should hold IPMAN responsible for the Scarcity.
“Crisis in IPMAN with government intervention is not new today. Previous government agencies had intervened in IPMAN crisis without blackmail from the agencies concerned, right from the time of Alhaji Jarfau Paki, the then special assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum Matters to Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, the former executive secretary of Petroleum Product pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). These people intervened in IPMAN matter without blackmailing the association. Some former managing directors of PPMC had also intervened in IPMAN matter without destroying IPMAN’s name.”
According to him, “IPMAN controls over 80% of the retail outlets in the country and IPMAN has partnered with previous governments to solve previous fuel crisis without damaging the association name.
“It is also on record that no member of IPMAN has voiced out against peace since this government stepped in to resolve IPMAN crisis few days ago. That is evidence that IPMAN and all IPMAN members want peace and are ready to embrace peace for seamless operation of the association administration and by extension the Nigeria oil sector.”
He charged “IPMAN doesn’t want any government agents, representatives or coordinators that will add more wound to the association’s injury or destroy the association’s name that was established over 35 years ago. IPMAN members nationwide have invested trillion of naira in the Nigerian downstream oil sector”.
“I am sure, Mr Lawson is not aware or knowledgeable of the gravity of his statement credited to IPMAN and Nigerians who have been suffering for weeks for somebody’s system and planning failure. It was an unfair statement and he has to apologise to IPMAN and Nigerians for deceiving the populace.
He went ahead to pose a number of questions to Mr. Ngoa.
“Mr Lawson Ngoa should answer the following questions to Nigerians: Does IPMAN issue import permit? Does IPMAN allocate forex for import? Is IPMAN involved in import planning of NNPC? Was it IPMAN that altered the 60 /40 import permit formula? Was it IPMAN that failed to carry other stakeholders along? Is it IPMAN that is responsible for Infrastructure decay of NNPC?”
Mr. Osatuyi concluded that “Mr Lawson Ngoa has no authority or mandate to be using IPMAN’s name to shield any of the government agencies in the Nigerian oil sector for any operational or administrative mismanagement. Once again, IPMAN is ready to work with the government in ensuring that products are available to Nigerians so as to deliver the promises of the government to the masses.”
Credit: All Africa