By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, Abuja and CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos
The federal government yesterday gave marching orders to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, to end fuel scarcity and clear the queues at filling stations this weekend.
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa.
He also said that contrary to reports, the federal government has no intention of increasing fuel price.
Mohammed blamed the winter period for fuel scarcity, pointing out that there is always more demand for petroleum products during winter.
He said, “The Minister of Petroleum was supposed to join us but he has to attend a very important meeting so that this crisis would be resolved. No, the government has no intention at all to increase the pump price of PMS.
“Two, the minister assured the council that we have enough products till the next one month even till the end of January.
Thirdly, this is winter period. There is always more demand for refined products for petroleum during winter period in the colder countries; this is what we are experiencing now.
“Also, that it has been the NNPC that has been importing but he has assured. The council gave him a marching order that this fuel scarcity should not last beyond this weekend and they are going to work very hard to ensure that it is curtailed. He assured council that there is actually no cause for alarm”.
Fuel queues had emerged nationwide on Monday despite assurances from the NNPC that it has enough fuel to last throughout the yuletide period.
NNPC also assured that there was no plan to increase fuel price at depots and fuel stations.
In a statement, the corporation’s general manager, Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, said there was no plan to increase prices at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming yuletide
Ughamadu said that the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and pump price of N143/N145 per litre had not changed.
He assured the public that the corporation had enough stock of petroleum products to ensure seamless supply and distribution of products across the country, especially during the yuletide.
He urged motorists and other users of petroleum products to disregard trending rumours of an impending fuel price hike.
Reprieve As IPMAN Opts For Dialogue With NNPC
Meanwhile, respite came the way of Nigerians yesterday as the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Lagos State chapter said it is ready to enter into dialogue with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to resolve issues bordering on petroleum procurement at depots.
IPMAN had claimed depot operators sell above government approved prices.
The association said yesterday that in the meantime, it has suspended its plan to withdraw services and shutdown members over 900 fuel stations in Lagos State and parts of Ogun State.
The chairman of IPMAN, Alhaji Alanamu Balogun, supported by executive members, announced the suspension at the end of a meeting of oil marketers held at Ejigbo secretariat.
Balogun said the suspension followed a strong appeal by the NNPC, which had arranged a meeting with IPMAN officials for December 14 at Abuja NNPC headquarters.
He said IPMAN yielded to NNPC’s appeal because of members of the public who have been engaging in panic buying of petroleum products since IPMAN’s announcement to down tools.
Balogun added that the meeting with NNPC officials would determine whether or not the withdrawal of service would still hold, pointing out that all the structures have been set in motion, while all stakeholders have been mobilized for the action.
“But we don’t want to be seen by the government and the public as economic saboteurs because we have a stake in the economic stability of this great country”, he stressed.
IPMAN also faulted NNPC’s statement that there was enough fuel storage at Ejigbo NNPC satellite depot, and that the price of fuel remained N133.38k.
The Lagos State chapter of IPMAN had few days ago threatened to withdraw its services across the state and part of Ogun State as from December 11.
At least, over 900 filling stations were to be shut down, a situation that would have led to fuel crisis during the yuletide festivities.