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Open Letter To Minister Of State For Petroleum On The Ongoing Fuel Crisis And The Way Forward

By Nelson Ekujumi
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Dear Sir,
With humility and sense of responsibility as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I write to intimate you with my concern, disappointment and anger just like millions of Nigerians over the present shameful nationwide fuel crisis and its attendant economic and social dislocation of businesses and movement of persons, goods and services.

Sir, it’s a known fact that the state of electricity supply in the country is erratic and this has made it imperative for individuals and corporate bodies to generally resort to the use of fuel to power their generators to supply electricity to homes, businesses and as well ensure movement of persons, goods and services.

However, in the last few days, Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardship, pain and agony as a result of lack of fuel which is an indictment on your office as the Minister of state for petroleum because your responsibility is to ensure efficient and effective running of the oil industry for national development.

The latest nationwide fuel crisis has not only resulted in physical and psychological traumatization and economic disruptions of the life of Nigerians, but is also a national embarrassment in view of the country’s status as the sixth largest producer of crude oil globally and a member of OPEC.

Unfortunately, like has become a ritual, Nigerians are being treated to the usual disgusting, despicable, insultive, irresponsible and assault to national sensibilities buck passing game between NNPC, PPMC, DPR and oil marketers with allegations of sabotage, shift in policy of daily tanker loading, etc which are unacceptable and intolerable.

The ministry of petroleum resources needs to be admonished of the fact that government as an institution at this age and time, must work with statistics in delivering on its constitutional responsibility to the people and the petroleum ministry cannot be an exemption in the discharge of its responsibility of ensuring efficient running of the oil industry.

Thus, we are at a loss and very angry over reports that the nationwide fuel scarcity is as a result of a recent directive to oil depots not to dispense fuel to more than 50 fuel tankers per day for distribution. This directive which has been alledged to be the cause of the present fuel crisis has not been addressed by the authorities who have only been turning round to deflect from this allegation and rather inform the nation that imported fuel cargoes have arrived the ports and that the queues will soon disappear.

Honourable Minister Sir, one would expect that at this point in time of our national development that the ministry and its agencies in charge of the supply and distribution of fuel across the country, ought to have a data of the daily consumption of fuel from local, states and federal governments levels. This data is what is required to be able to measure the amount of fuel to be made available daily for distribution with an extra margin for error and thus ensure that local disruption is freed from the type of dislocations and embarrassment that we are currently facing.

Also, time has come for the ministry of petroleum resources and its agencies to take an inventory of functional petrol stations across the country and order the closure and conversion of those who are in other than the business of selling fuel to the general public. This will enable the agencies in charge of distribution of fuel and the security agencies to be able to track the fuel stations receipt of fuel and take appropriate actions against those who divert the product.

One’s observation is that something is amiss about the unhealthy relationship or workings of the agencies and stakeholders involved in the local distribution of fuel, hence when there is a crisis, they resort to blame game instead of jointly accepting responsibility for failure whose imminent likelihood would have provoked the raising of alarm of impending challenges from any of the stakeholder.

The lessons from this blame game of the cause of the ongoing shameful fuel crisis which is a carryover from the culture of irresponsibility of the past, is that the time has now come for the fuel distribution and monitoring agencies, the oil marketers, tanker drivers union, transporters union, security agencies to work harmoniously in the area of distribution of fuel locally and also avail the general public, information on the distribution update through the media for easy tracking of product.

Honourable Minister, kindly explore the viability of other means of the distribution network of petroleum products nationwide apart from the traditional pipelines and depots, such as the railways, by liaising with your counterpart in the ministry of transportation in this regard. This is one area of transportation that has suffered neglect of use for petroleum products for too long and the time to change that is now.

Sir, it is very important to emphasize that the huge sacrifices made by Nigerians, in terms of threat to personal safety, inducements, national security and integrity, to birth the present administration which is showing promising signs of restoring sanity, responsibility, accountability and integrity which had taken flight from national consciousness for some time, back into our national life cannot be allowed to be jeopardized by anti democratic elements who still think they can toy with our collective destiny and so they must be confronted and defeated for our collective good and national image.

Honourable Minister Sir, the ball is now in your court on the way forward by taking actions to correct observed lapses and look at the suggestions proffered in order to immediately resolve the present fuel crisis and prevent a re-occurrence of this national embarrassment as long as you are on the seat, else, if it reoccurs, we will be left with no option but to take appropriate lawful and democratic measures to enforce our constitutional rights as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Yours Sincerely,
Nelson Ekujumi

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