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Kerosene Scarcity: PPMC Management Deserve To Be Sacked - Senate

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ABUJA, October 04, (THEWILL) - President of the Senate, David Mark, on Thursday criticised the management of Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) over current scarcity of kerosene in the country, saying it deserves to be sacked while the licenses of kerosene distributors are revoked.

Mark spoke during deliberations on the general principles of a bill seeking to ensure direct bulk allocation of kerosene from PPMC/NNPC to kerosene peddlers, as against the current practice of granting bulk allocation of kerosene to major marketers only.

Ironically, the bill, sponsored by Senator Nkech Nwaogu (PDP, Abia), failed to scale the crucial second reading, as senators instead identified the pending Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as sufficiently equipped to take care of such legislations.

Mark also gave a damning assessment of the direct kerosene sales scheme organised by Capital Oil, describing it as a failure, and accusing middlemen in the distribution of kerosene for feeding fat on the difficulties of Nigerians in accessing the product.

“The solution to that is that the man who is in charge currently, who is to ensure that kerosene gets to the man on the street and who is not doing it, just sack him and let him go,” he said. “Get somebody else; and get all those that are involved to get along with him, too. We are all aware that kerosene does not get to where it should be.”

He lamented that a lot of middle men have simply been making millions out of the product, at the expense of the ordinary man.

“If you now ask the man in the village to come to Abuja and get his allocation, he is only going to end up spending and using his own money to bribe more people than he is trying to do at the moment. So, that one will not solve the problem. This bill will not solve the problem. The intention behind the bill is very sound. It is good and in the interest of the common man but this is not a solution to the problem.

“What you need to do, those of you in petroleum, either in the upstream or downstream, is to bring a motion on the floor of the Senate, telling us that kerosene is not getting to the people and whoever has exclusive rights next day should lose that license or right, and let someone else do it.

“It is a fact that kerosene is not getting to the people. We are worried, all of you, in your senatorial districts are bombarded by those who ought to get kerosene and are not getting it. Meanwhile, a lot of people are feeding fat on government’s expense.”

Nwaogu, sponsor of the bill, sensing the line of the argument, tactically withdrew it. But that was after many senators had kicked against the bill, saying it would either aid corruption or shy away from fighting the inefficiency of the agency saddled with the responsibility of distributing the product.

Advancing her argument earlier, Nwaogu had said that the bill, if passed into law, would turn out an effective way of ameliorating the sufferings of kerosene consumers in the hinterland.

She also argued that the bill would stabilise the price and reduce the chain of middlemanship in the business of kerosene from deport to final users.

Attempts by Senators George Akume and Abdul Ningi to convince other senators to allow the bill scale the second reading failed.

Opposing the bill, Senator Ahmed Lawan (ANPP, Yobe) said, “I oppose the bill on grounds that it is an admission that we cannot deal with corruption. And it also supports inefficiency, ineptitude and incapacity.

“People in PPMC are supposed to make sure that is product is available. The Senate must stand up to the Executive that any public officer who cannot do his or her job should be shown the way out. Sack them and let them go.”

Other senators who spoke in opposition of the bill include Smart Adeyemi, Ayogu Eze, James Manager and Emmanuel Paulker.