DPR: Between Reality And Illusion

By Solomon Okocha

"Upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all." - Alexander the Great

As President Muhammadu Buhari continues his change revolution and absolute war against corruption, it is important for those who love him to stay on the look out for hidden landmines. Right in the heart of the change wagon lies a spread of venomous enemies of the state. Those who immensely benefit from the chaos that characterises the dysfunctional system of our oil industry, are still very much on ground.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), is statutorily responsible for ensuring compliance to petroleum laws, regulations and guidelines in the Oil and Gas Industry. The discharge of these responsibilities involves monitoring of operations at drilling sites, producing wells, production platforms and flowstations, crude oil export terminals, refineries, storage depots, pump stations, retail outlets, any other locations where petroleum is either stored or sold, and all pipelines carrying crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

Our main focus today is on the stipulated function of the DPR at the retail outlets. Has the DPR ensured compliance to petroleum laws, regulations, and guidelines at the fuel stations in Nigeria? The answer is NO. There is a huge disconnect between the body language of Mr. President, his Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, and the almost invisible DPR structure. While the President and his Minister are busy working out modalities in ensuring that PMS is readily available and affordable for Nigerians, DPR appears to be docile and unavailable.

A typical case study of the ineffectiveness of DPR, is the present situation in Rivers State. Till date, inspite of stiff warnings and measures from the government against hoarding of Petroleum products and price inflation, PMS is still scarce, and is being sold for N150 to N250, as against the N87 official price. Black market operators are having a field day in Port Harcourt, as they now publicly display gallons upon gallons of PMS unabated. It is either that DPR, which is the agency solely responsible for ensuring compliance to regulations and guidelines, has been compromised, or it is grossly inefficient.

There is also the issue of sabotage. Since Buhari became President, one of the fears that I have harboured most, is the issue of an 'enemy from within. I believe in my heart of hearts that those who do not believe in the change mantra, and those who are still grieving over Jonathan's presidential loss, will do nothing but work against the success of Buhari's government, in order to draw blood. In my view, that's the negative force prevailing on today's DPR and indeed other agencies of government. That's also what is militating against the complete upsurge of the change crusade.

To separate reality from illusion, one cannot but advise President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly restructure key agencies and boards, starting from the sleeping DPR. This should be done as quickly as possible in order to ensure that those who claim to be with us, are TRULY with us.

Solomon Okocha, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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