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Fuel Scarcity: FEC Tells Ajumogobia, Others ‘‘No Xmas Holiday ’’

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Following the nonchalant attitude of the Minister of Petroleum as well as his assistance, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, who was sighted at a Christmas Carol Concert, gallivanting, singing, and fiddling hands on pipe-organ and popping of champagne, while Nigerians are left under severe pain and agony in search of petroleum products to get on their economic and social life especially in this yuletide season. A decision has consequently been taken by Federal Executive Council who summoned the Minister of Petroleum and his counterpart in the power sector not to go on Christmas holiday unless something is done to ameliorate the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.

In a chat with state house correspondents after the meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 23), the Minister of Information and Communications Professor Dora Akunyili said the decision was taken after the discovery that petroleum dealers and marketers are hoarding the commodity using only one pump to dispense fuel where there are ten pumps. The Council says that it cannot stand and watch some Nigerians sabotage the effort of government in its attempt to alleviate the suffering of the people. She says that the ministers will continue to meet with the vice president until the situation is improved.

Although the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, was in Lagos to get a first-hand experience of the fuel supply situation on Monday and said after the tour that he was satisfied with the stock position. However, because of the serious backlog in supply, demand had gone up by more than twice in the Lagos area, our source said. But he failed to nip the situation on the board once and for all, as the whole exercise was done in a hurry. Infact his presence in Lagos gathered that it was meant to cajole the public that they making efforts to give respite to the citizens. Weighing the economic hardship of Nigerians investigations showed that Lagos fuel dealers are selling at exorbitant prices as high as N100 per litre of petrol to motorists. It was also indicated that four litres of petrol were sold for N800 at the black market in some parts of Abuja.

Consequently, the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria has warned that the current worsening fuel supply situation may linger except the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) stops passing the buck. The Western Zone of the association gave the warning at the end of its joint meeting with the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union and Independent Marketers Branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It is high time Nigerian government placed so much premium on matters bothering on national interest, especially those that have direct impact on the lives of the downtrodden.

However, gathered that Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, has written to the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, requesting him to avoid any vacuum in the Presidency by acting on behalf of the President, Umar Musa Yar'Adua, on all matters of state as envisaged by “Section 5” of the constitution. This was contained in a letter delivered to the vice president on Tuesday (Dec. 22), Aondoakaa told Goodluck Jonathan that “Section 5 of the Constitution gives the Vice President wide and unfettered latitude to act for the President at anytime and on all matters brought before him” at any time when the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not available to exercise those oversight powers and functions. One could possibly assume that with this development the current crises would be solved as concret directives could be made to affect some policies and implement some actions. Meanwhile an Aso Rock source who elected anonymity has said such empowerment to Goodluck is only an attempt to impoverish the citizenry as the planned deregulation of the Nigeria oil downstream sector would be announced by the Vice President to all Nigerians pretty soon. This is ironically considered as a ''gift'' to all Nigerians during this festive period.

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