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WHY THERE WON'T BE FUEL SCARCITY, BY STAKEHOLDERS

By NBF News
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Madueke
For some time now, Nigerians have been spared of the agony of the dreaded fuel crisis which were almost becoming a national identity. However, the celebration and joy was almost threatened by some reports of impending fuel crisis which was purported to have emanated from some aggrieved marketers, who in the past had always capitalized on crisis to sell at cut throat prices.

Hence, against the backdrop that there can be impending scarcity of petroleum products, workers and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have allayed the fear that there will be adequate supply of the products.

According to the workers, there is no cause for alarm as the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had been doing its best recently to ensure adequate supply and flow of petroleum products in the country. They noted that the PPPRA has put in place adequate and transparent methods of importation to ensure uninterrupted supply of the products for domestic consumption throughout the country.

Also, president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Babatunde Ogun, said that there will not be fuel scarcity, adding that some greedy people are those behind the rumour of the supposed shortage. Ogun, condemned the sponsors of the rumour, noting that the marketers embarked on discrediting reports on the fuel situation, to cause chaos and panic, as they always gain out of such crisis.

'Some greedy marketers who are fond of speculating to create fear and cause panic buying and hoarding to enable them cheat Nigerians and make more profits are behind the rumour', he said. He affirmed that various agencies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring free flow and uninterrupted supply has been given mandate and all that is required to ensure scarcity does not exit again, adding that they have no reason to fail.

The PENGASSAN president, who is a board member of the PPPRA, said that the processes of allocation for importation of petroleum products into the country is competitive, free and fair as well as transparent.

He added; 'PPPRA is one of the agencies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that required domestic consumption is provided for and above. The agency has modalities in exercising this task and I can tell you as a board member of PPPRA that these modalities are strictly adhered to.

'Some marketers, who have performed dismally in the past and failed to meet the requirements for fuel importation, should not use their selfish desires to create panic in this industry again. Some of the criteria used in allocating importation of refined products are storage facility, thorough input agreement and retail outlets, past record of performance, and financial capability, among others.

'It is certain that all marketers will not be given importation allocation at the same time, but it is mandatory on the agencies saddled with this responsibility to be fair to all in their allocations without fear or favour.'

He, however, said that any marketer who feels he has been unfairly treated should protest to the board but not engage in campaign of calumny and attempt to swindle unsuspecting Nigerians by making them pay above the approved pump price through misinformation that can cause panic buying and hoarding as well as heating up the system.

the Labour leader explained further that the board comprises of stakeholders from various background and who are well versed and possess required knowledge to handle all related issues in the petroleum sector, adding that the agency has been trying to break the monopoly in the supply chain and ensure fairness and competitiveness.

In his words, 'Marketers can not hold us to ransom again and government must wake up to their responsibilities to ensure we did not fall back to the old days of unnecessary scarcity again.

'There is the need for competitiveness in the supply of white products and anybody who is unfairly treated or feel short changed have the right to protest or appeal to the board of the agency for restitution. There is no reason for fuel scarcity at this critical period, all stakeholders must come together and salvage the industry. There should be no more monopoly and good business ethics must be strictly adhered to by all.'

A depot manager and a member of DAPPMA, Mr. S .I .C Okoli, said that there is no need for scarcity as long as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has guaranteed imports of petroleum products to boost local production for the nation's refineries. Okoli said, 'We can not see why there should be any scarcity when the government has guaranteed the imports to support NNPC local production and the PPPRA has regularised the inputs programme and are involving the major marketers and DAPPMA with appropriate facility to handle the inputs.

'The banks are also cooperating to provide the funding. We believe that the supply of PMS has been normalised.'

In the same vein, an official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Comrade Kingsley Ukoh, said there has been renewed efforts by the PPPRA to ease importation and makes the processes free and fair and more competitive as well as transparent.

'I do not foresee a possible scarcity of fuel at the moment because of the renewed effort by the PPPRA in making sure that importation of fuel into the country is strictly supervised and efficiently supplied in large quantity to all nook and crannies of the country and this has been sustained for sometimes now,' he said.

The Deputy President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Musa Tolly, also noted that, it was quite shocking to hear the news of impending scarcity, saying, 'we believe that there won't be fuel scarcity any longer, as long and over-night queue have suddenly disappeared.

'We really appreciate PPPRA for job well done, moving away from the usual Nigeria way of doing things.'

Supporting other stakeholders stand, Barrister Emmanuel Gowon of National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), said that there is no concrete evidence to substantiate the allegations that fuel importation approvals and awards are lopsided.

He explained that it is instructive to understand that the country is experiencing a glut in terms of the availability of petroleum products in the country, saying that this should allay any fear of fuel scarcity in the immediate future.

He, however, suggested that that PPPRA should engage all stakeholders in the industry for a round table discussion to fore stall such an occurrence at any given time.

The Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Babafemi Olawore, who said the volume approved for importation has been coming into the country without hindrance, however, advised the PPPRA to quickly convene stakeholders meeting to explain issues to avoid misinformation. He equally called on the PPPRA to always follow the approved Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) guidelines.

The General Manager, Corporate Services of the PPPRA, Mr. Wole Adamolekun, said that the agency has been following the guidelines of the PSF scheme, adding that it regularly liaises with all stakeholders to ensure continuous flow of petroleum products nationwide.

'The serenity currently being experienced is a result of every stakeholder playing their roles. Since the ultimate goal is to deregulate the sector by encouraging greater participation, it would be counter-productive if supplies are restricted to a few. Experience has shown that small suppliers also have a role to play especially with a country as big as Nigeria.' Adamolekun urged any stakeholder who have issues to bring it to the table where such problems will be regularly considered and addressed fairly and justifiably.