With the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) coming out in recent days to claim that it has over 1.4 billion liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in its reserve, we are left to wonder why the persistent long queues that we see all all over the country has not been taken care of.
The daily consumption of PMS by Nigeria as a country currently stands at 35 million liters per day. A simple calculation will show that with 1.4 liters of PMS in the reserve, Nigerians are supposed to have about 40 days of available and affordable PMS without any form of hassles or stress. But this is not the case and we are left to wonder why. Are we being lied to? If yes, who is telling the lie? Where should this blame be laid?
The NNPC claims that the resurgent queues in filling stations are due to marketers hoarding the product to create “artificial scarcity” and also the vandalization of pipelines which according to the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC), has made Nigeria loose a staggering sum of N50 billion in just ten months. But despite this claim by the NNPC, a reliable source told Premium Times that the crisis is due largely to the endemic corruption at the state-owned oil company, which was the symbol of the Jonathan administration and have been passed on to this administration.
And even though the Minister of State on Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who also doubles as the Group General Manager of the NNPC, ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to seal off stations caught hoarding fuel and distribute the fuel to Nigerians for free, the source said he was just deceiving Nigerians with the camouflage and that he was aware of the conspiracy and corruption in the nation’s oil sector. So where do we go from here?
These unanswered questions have prompted the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), to direct the Minister of Petroleum Resources, President Muhammadu Buhari, to end the ongoing “unnecessary” fuel scarcity in the country within two weeks.
The committee, headed by the senator representing Anambra South, Senator Uche Ekwunife, gave the ultimatum during the committee’s meeting with top officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, yesterday in Abuja.
The committee also frowned at the on going fuel scarcity which they said has caused untold suffering for Nigerians and insisted that not only must PMS be available in two weeks it should be at the official price of N87.00 per liter.
According to Senator Ekwunife,
“We are mandating the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Permanent Secretary and heads of agencies to stop this fuel scarcity in two weeks. We are giving a target now, we don’t wan’t to know how you would achieve it. Nigerians want to see an end to this fuel scarcity.”
It should be recalled that the Senate tried to summon the President, who also doubles as the country’s Petroleum minister to the floor of the senate, but senators from the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), which incidentally, is also the ruling party, rebuffed the move, being the majority in the house.