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Fuel scarcity: Jonathan bars ministers from Xmas break

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Abuja traffic situation due to fuel scarcity at the Central Business District, FCT. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
Abuja traffic situation due to fuel scarcity at the Central Business District, FCT. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

By  Daniel Idonor
ABUJA—VICE-PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, barred four ministers from travelling out of Abuja, for the Christmas, and ordered them to fix the six-week-old fuel scarcity across the nation.
They are the Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman; the Minister of State, Mr. Odien Ajumogobia; Minister of Power, Mr. Lanre Babalola and the Minister of State, Alhaji Nuhu Solo Wha.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, told State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting which was presided over by Jonathan.

She said the Vice-President was disturbed by the lingering long queues at petrol stations across the nation.

According to her: “The Federal Government is concerned and worried about the present fuel situation in the country. We are not foreigners, we are Nigerians. We are also going through what you are going through one way or the other. My driver stayed at the filling station for hours. We are not insulated from the problem,” she added.

No Xmas for ministers

Akunyili said the issue dominated proceedings at the FEC meeting which is the last for the year, adding that because of the situation, the Vice-President had fixed a mini-FEC meeting between him and the four ministers next week to tackle the matter.

“We feel your pain, we are going through the same pain, but, we have to do something constructive which we are doing. At the meeting, we discussed it extensively because the Vice-President asked the ministers of petroleum to outline the problems,” she added.

The minister stated that Jonathan asked the ministers to brief the council on the fuel crisis and measures taken to tackle it. She added that after their briefings, the Vice-President directed them to wait after the meeting for more discussions to tackle the problem.

Why scarcity persists —Akunyili

On the cause for the long queues, the Minister said: “one of them is that people are hoarding the fuel and the Minister of State for Petroleum even went round. Some of these people even vandalised some of the serving points. It is sabotage, it is unpatriotic, it is wickedness.

“Again, we have people buying fuel, off-loading them and coming to buy again, it is panic-buying. Too many parameters are already compounding our problems. And, because of the seriousness of the issue, the Vice-President is holding a meeting in his office with the ministers of petroleum and power.

“More meetings have been slated for next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Vice- President has directed that some ministers are not going on holidays because of the issue of fuel and power.

“They have meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, a mini-FEC, many of us won’t be there. In fact, the Vice-President told the ministers of petroleum that there is no holiday for them because they cannot go when the people are suffering.

“They must stay back with him and find out ways of easing the problems because Nigerians are suffering. We are worried; we are touched, but help us to do something systematic. If we just get angry we will not solve the problems,” she added.

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