Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Sunday, spoke in favour of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, following the widespread hatred the minister incurred for announcing that the nation will continue to suffer the problem of lingering fuel scarcity till May.
Okupe, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, said “Nigerians hate being told the truth,” while urging citizens to face reality. According to him:
“The minister of state for petroleum is a Nigerian I know by reputation only. When he was appointed I actually wondered why on earth will a man in his exalted international position and pedigree come into the murky arena of the Nigerian oil business. It can only be patriotism.
“Since he assumed office, I have noticed a high level of professionalism and candour. But Nigerians abhor the truth.
“The minister said a few weeks ago that it is cheaper to import fuel than process our crude locally. I thought that should be obvious to all discerning minds. Our newest refinery is 35 years old. The capacity of the refinery to fractionate.
Mr. Doyin Okupe further explained that naturally, there is always a drastic reduction in crude with age. In its best form, he said, one gets about 51 percent PMS per barrel of crude refined. But at the current ages of the Nigerian refineries, we hardly can do more than 35 to 40 percent. Therefore, our policy of setting aside crude for local refining is outdated and counter-productive and should be stopped. He went ahead to ex-ray the actual cause of the current fuel shortage, exonerating NNPC and its leader, Mr. Kachiukwu saying that:
“The minister said this present fuel crisis will tarry till May and all hell was let loose. The minister is right. He quietly informed the nation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is now responsible for 100 per cent of our fuel imports. The reason for this anomaly is not far-fetched.
“We consume 40 million litres of PMS daily. At about $645/tonne that comes to about 55cents per liter is $22m/day. Which importer and which bank in Nigeria of today can open $22 million daily? Not even the Almighty NNPC! So that is the real cause of the scarcity. The truth is what the minister said is that, it’s not going away soonest.
As Doyin Okupe advised, the only reasonable, cost effective and efficient way of ensuring that Nigerians get petroleum products regularly and continuously, without further complicating the unavailability of the dollar and its continued stagnation of the national economy, is by scrapping the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), stopping the allocation of crude daily for local refining and allocating appropriate volume of crude to the oil majors under a transparent oil swap arrangement.