Buhari Should Prove Avowed Antecedent By Permanently Ending Fuel Scarcity
SAN FRANCISCO, April 04, (THEWILL) – Just when there were hopes that the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS otherwise known as petrol, has been subdued in Nigeria, long queues returned to fuel stations across the country. The scarcity worsened in the last few weeks, with motorists spending long hours at filling stations, to buy the product at exorbitant rates.
While most fuel stations are out of stock, even with the official pump- price at N86.50k, independent marketers sell for as high as N160-N180 per litre. Unfortunately, black market hawkers have resurfaced, selling PMS for as high as N250 per litre! This problem is even compounded by the shortage of Kerosene, a very important cooking fuel for the average Nigerian home.
Today, Nigerians are groaning under the excruciating pains caused by the biting scarcity while the supply of electricity has remained deplorable. As it persists, every facet of life has been negatively affected. The Price of food and other essential commodities have hit the skies, while cost of transportation is arbitrarily being increased.
Regrettably, this is happening at a time when citizens are grappling with other economic challenges inflicted by unpopular government policies. It is feared that with the current trend, most Nigerians would find it difficult to eke out a living.
Various reasons have been adduced for the present scarcity, among which is the difficulty experienced by oil marketers in procuring foreign exchange for the importation of petroleum products. This has made the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assume the role of sole importer of refined products.
The National Chairman of Petroleum Tankers Drivers PTD, Comrade Salimon Akanni Oladiti opined that the supply chain had become, “fragile since the NNPC assumed role of sole importer, controlling 78 percent of the nation's petroleum needs, with other marketers sharing the remaining 22 percent.”
NNPC Group Managing Director and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu assured last week that petrol would be available within two weeks, even as he promised to sanction depot owners who sell petrol above the approved ex-depot price of N77.00. The assurance came after his controversial statement that regular fuel supply could not be guaranteed until May this year.
THEWILL demands government to find an immediate and permanent solution to the lingering fuel scarcity. We are deeply worried that this is happening in a leading oil-producing nation like Nigeria. Since the existing supply chain has proved inadequate in meeting huge demands, it should therefore be decentralized to make for a competitive bidding process.
It is unacceptable that the palliatives NNPC is relying upon to make fuel queues disappear shortly are based on expected delivery of imported products, said to be awaiting discharge at the Ports.
Since these palliatives do not offer permanent solution to the crisis, THEWILL calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently come up with policies that would end this perennial fuel shortage. This moral burden is critical, not only because he is the substantive Petroleum Minister, but also because he has traveled this road before.
He was first a Petroleum Minister in the late 70's, during the military regime of then General Olusegun Obasanjo when he saw to the establishment of the NNPC. He had served as Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF; set up by the late General Sani Abacha to manage proceeds from oil earnings.
With such a man at the helms of affairs, one wonders why there would be protracted petroleum scarcity.
Nigeria cannot afford to continue walking this infamous path; hence President Buhari must restore order in the petroleum sector and resolve the fuel crisis once and for all if his change message is to be taken seriously.