BY AHURAKA ISAH AND SOLOMON AYADO, FESTUS OKOROMADU, Abuja, NAN, CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos
The Senate yesterday cut short its three-week recess to convene a meeting with stakeholders in the oil sector, with a view to addressing the fuel scarcity which appears to have defied solutions.
This is as the Senate has vowed to unveil forces or factors behind the fuel scarcity which has caused Nigerians untold hardship in lasted last three weeks.
Consequently, its committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), has summoned relevant stakeholders in the Industry to appear before it next week Thursday (January 4, 2018) at an investigative public hearing session.
A terse statement signed by the chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central) yesterday, said there would be public hearing which would have in attendance, the minister of state for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru, heads of other petroleum parastatals and marketers.
Senator Marafa insisted that the public hearing would be televised live by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) for Nigerians to get a glimpse of what is happening.
He added that the meeting which will be held in the Senate Hearing Room 221 is meant to address the lingering fuel scarcity bedeviling the nation in the last few weeks with a view to putting a complete stop to the unsavory development.
“The planned meeting with critical stakeholders in the industry, aims at unraveling forces or factors behind the current fuel crisis and possible way out in the interest of Nigerians,” he said.
It would be recalled that efforts made so far by NNPC management and independent marketers to end the scarcity within the last two weeks, have proved abortive as long queues of vehicles at filling stations across the country and exorbitant sales of the commodity at black markets remain unabated.
The Senate, which is presently on Christmas and New Year break, is billed to resume committee work for budget defence on January 9 and commence plenary on January 16.
Saboteurs Behind Crisis – Balarabe Musa
A former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has blamed the current petrol crisis on activities of saboteurs in the oil industry.
Musa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Kaduna yesterday that Nigerians were going through this hardship due to some selfish interest of some people.
He alleged that some petroleum marketers, in connivance with some government officials, hoarded petroleum products to create artificial scarcity for profiteering.
Musa said that this was the reason petroleum products were not available at filling stations and the price hiked at the black market.
He described the situation as unacceptable and urged government to stop activities of “saboteurs” with a view to making the products available to all.
“It is very unfortunate that Nigerians are going through this hardship to get fuel which
“Without doubt, saboteurs are behind this problem. Some marketers, with the conspiracy of some government officials, hoard or divert petroleum products for their selfish interests.
“The government should get to the root of this. We cannot continue to have this problem, especially around Yuletide period.
“Nigerians have suffered enough in the past few days. Government should find a lasting solution,” he said.
Musa said that Nigeria would continue to have this problem so long as people put personal interests above public interest.
He said privatisation of some of the critical sectors of the economy had impoverished the masses, while producing super rich few.
The former governor said for the people to actually feel the impact of governance, government should be more involved in the running of the economy.
He said that he was sympathetic with Nigerians over the fuel crisis and urged them to play their part in ending corruption in the system.
Fuel Scarcity: Ministry Refutes Purported Memo
….NNPC, DPR punish errant fuel stations
The Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR) has denounced a memo said to be making the rounds on social media alleging that the minister of state did a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari on the fuel situation across the country, describing the message as false.
In a press statement issued by the director, Press, MPR, Idang Alibi, the ministry said the message is a diversionary attempt, stressing that it would rather focus on collaborative efforts to solve the lingering fuel problem hitting the nation.
“Our attention has been drawn to a message making the rounds on social media of a purported memo by the honorable minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu to the president on the fuel crises. The message and its contents are false.
“This is not a time for diversionary issues as the petroleum sector is dealing with a serious national issue. We are focused on collaboratively finding an urgent solution to this crisis,” he emphasised.
The minister of state, according to Alibi, will continue to monitor the current fuel situation and to work with NNPC and DPR to continue to execute what he called, the already communicated ministerial directives to maximally flood the market with products and prevent and penalize any sabotage attempts at diversion by any culprit.
While urging the citizens to bear with them, Alibi said, “The minister of state appreciates the pain Nigerians are going through but urges calm and understanding as NNPC is doing everything possible to immediately end this fuel crises situation.”
Meanwhile, a combined team of officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), led by the group managing director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, on Tuesday heightened the tempo of unscheduled visits to fuel stations across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) suspected to be involved in underhand dealings.
The raid, which was said to have been facilitated by the operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) led to the clampdown of a notorious fuel outlet in the Kubwa District of the FCT caught selling petrol at the rate of N250 per litre, a price well above the approved retail price of N145/litre.
The NNPC GMD promptly ordered an on-the-spot dispensing of the remaining product in the storage tank free to motorists in conformity with extant sanction for such misdemeanor.
A press statement issued by the corporation’s spokesperson, quoted Dr Baru as saying that in line with its mandate as supplier of last resort, the NNPC would continue to work with relevant stakeholders like the DPR and NSCDC to bring to a quick end, the prevailing hardship in accessing petrol across the country.
The GMD was said to be enthused with the recent directive by the presidency for the security agencies to tighten the noose on smuggling of petroleum products, the issues of cross-border activities and diversion of products would be curtailed, thus allowing Nigerians to benefit from the massive injection of fuel into the system being undertaken by the corporation within the last few weeks.
DPR Assures Fuel Scarcity Will End Soon, As Situation In Lagos Looks Gloomy
..Seeks concessions for IPMAN
The Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Mordecai Ladan yesterday reassured Nigerians that the lingering scarcity of petrol will soon come to an end.
The assurance is coming as many petrol stations in most parts of Lagos are shut down.
Few dispensing outlets in the metropolis are overstretched with long queues that caused heavy traffic.
Transport fares remained high as few commercial buses ply the roads.
Ladan, who gave the assurance after an inspection of some private depots within Apapa axis in Lagos, said that products are coming in gradually in most of the depots visited.
He said that while some depots are currently receiving products, there is assurance that more products will soon come again within the next 48hours.
“I think with all we have seen now in the depots visited, petrol should be available in all filling stations across the country in a few days’ time.
“It will soon ease out in days to come,” he assured Nigerians.
Ladan appealed to depot operators to give more products to independent marketers’ filling stations because they were most affected by the scarcity of petrol.
He said the independent marketers had filling stations in most major locations in the country and most of them had not received supply for weeks.
The DPR inspection team visited Folawiyo Energy Limited and NIPCO tank Farm in Apapa.
At Folawiyo, Mr Dipo Makanjola said the depot had about 6million litres of petrol and had been operating 24 hours to ensure that Nigerians get the product.
Makanjola said the product belonged to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and they were loading the product according to the directive of the corporation.
He said, “the last time we received the product from NNPC was on December 23 and that is what we are loading. We hope to get another supply by Saturday.”
At NIPCO, a vessel was discharging over 23 million litres of petroleum as at the time DPR reached the tank farm.
Mr Taofeek Lawal, the head, Corporate Communications of NIPCO, said about 600 trucks of petrol that was given to NIPCO have been scheduled for loading to marketers.
Lawal said with 23 million litres of petrol, the company would load over 600 petroleum tankers in three days, adding that NNPC had assured the company that another vessel carrying petrol will arrive on Saturday.
He assured the team that the company would work tirelessly to ensure that scarcity of petrol ease out in few days.
FG Is Still Owing Us N800bn – Marketers
…We paid N90bn for products not yet supplied
The last is yet to be heard on the blame game by petroleum marketers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the current scarcity of petrol across the country.
The latest claim by the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association (DAPPMA) is that the NNPC and its subsidiary, Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) is owing its members N90 billion for products paid for.
The DAPPMA, in a statement by its executive secretary, Mr Olufemi Adewole, yesterday insisted that the association has made significant sacrifices to avert the crises being experienced by Nigerians.
“The essence of our initial press release was to throw light on salient issues surrounding the shortfall in current petrol supply which is presently solely handled by the NNPC. It was not an attempt to join issues with PPMC/NNPC with whom we are partners.
“NNPC’s view of our press release stating our side of the story and seeking to defend marketers for the very first time, against the unwarranted accusations of hoarding and profiteering is rather unfortunate.
“It is an undisputable fact that DAPPMA members have paid for petrol supply (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90 billion yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such, how can we be held responsible for hoarding?” Adewole queried.
He said that the PPMC/NNPC does not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit, adding, “so, we are not aware of any indebtedness to PPMC/NNPC by our members, We again reject any attempt to blame marketers for the shortfall in supply as it is not our making since NNPC has been the sole importer since October 2017.”
The executive secretary said that marketers have continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600 billion debt owed his members and over N800 billion owed marketers as a whole by the federal government.
Nonetheless, Adewole assured Nigerians that irrespective of NNPC’s stance, all possible steps were being taken as they have always done, to cooperate with PPMC/NNPC to eliminate the fuel queues nationwide within the next few days.
It would be recalled that the NNPC, in a statement Wednesday, said it has supplied appreciable volume to DAPPMA, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) to rid the challenges currently being experienced in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.
The corporation, which was reacting to the claim by DAPPMA over short supply of products, however, regretted that DAPPMA which members had taken receipts of products from Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of NNPC and owe the company to the tune of N26.7billion as at December 21, 2017, has the audacity to indict NNPC unjustifiably.
“The statement by DAPPMA that the current hiccups in the supply of products were due to the inability of the Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) partners of NNPC to deliver on their business obligations is unfounded and self-indicting as many of DAPPMA members patronize the same DSDP international counterparts as the corporation.
“Despite the concession by the government giving access to DAPPMA to obtain FOREX at an official rate of N305 per dollar for PMS import, their members have not been able to do so, leaving NNPC as the sole supplier of PMS to the Nigerian market,” the statement endorsed by general manager, group public affairs of the NNPC,” Ndu Ughammadu noted.
The NNPC further assured the public that despite the increase it effected in the supply of PMS in the December 2017, it has nonetheless, programmed to supply 1.2billion litres of the white products in January 2018, translating to about 40million litres of PMS supply per day. Ordinarily, Nigerians consume about 700 trucks (about 27million – 30million) litres per day.
“Despite the current challenges, Nigerians are reassured that there is no plan to increase PMS pump price above N145/litre and that NNPC will continue to maintain ex–depot price of N133.28/litre which guarantees the pump price not exceeding the N145 per litre capped by the government.
“All stakeholders are implored to support the efforts of government to bring a speedy end to the current fuel distribution challenges being experienced in parts of the country as this is not the time to play the blame game”, the statement appealed.
Petrol Diversion: NNPC Urges Nigerians To Expose Illegal Stations
The Nigerian National petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has called on Nigerians to join every effort to ensure all illegal fuel stations in the country were exposed.
Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of NNPC made the call while on continuous monitoring of fuel stations on Thursday in Abuja.
He attributed the major cause of the scarcity to product diversion and hoarding by some markers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the team visited about four illegal fuel stations in Bassan and Sango villages, outskirts in Abuja and dispense petrol free to motorists in the territory.
Two of the stations could be identified as Mcmanakai Global service, Enesi oil Plc, while the other two were nameless.
“NNPC has been saying that there are lots of diversions and hoarding of products, such structures are being used as places for this diversion and hoarding.
“We, in our record indicate that we have several days’ sufficiency but most of these products have been diverted by marketers and have been kept into these kinds of illegal storages.
“So, they are not made available to the public and the important thing is that we have to make this places open and the product sold to the public,”he said
Baru insisted that all illegal structures in the country must be fished out to avoid a repeat of scarcity in the country.
“We have to stop this illegal structures and diversion from taking place.
“As indicated earlier by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and Department of Petroleum Resources, we want to trace back who and who is supplying these products.
“On our own side as NNPC, through the war room, we are doing daily monitoring of every truck that moves and we are going to give sanctions to erring marketers that are found diverted products or the trucks have not shown to turn in places they have been loaded to.
“This we are going to effect immediately,” he said
The GMD further noted that through the War room it had identified some diversion adding that appropriate measure had been taken on it.
He noted that If the diversions were abated, the queues would disappears.
This, he said would also help trucks to take products to correct locations.
He reassured the public that NNPC would continue to work hard to ensure normalcy in the sector.