Apologise to Nigerians, Sen. Ohuabunwa tells Buhari
By Sebastine Obasi, Mike Eboh, Joseph Erunke & Ediri Ejoh
LAGOS — Nigerians might have to pay more for petrol in the days ahead, as the Federal Government, yesterday, disclosed that it would review the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, next month.
This came as the Acting Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, called on the Federal Government to undertake the automation of PPPRA operations for improved efficiency and transparency and also develop a pricing framework to encourage local refining and discourage importation of petroleum products in the long term.
Meanwhile, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians for allegedly creating hardship for them through his alleged inability to handle the country’s economy well, and for not providing solution to the lingering fuel crisis in the country.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, also said, yesterday, that they were not to be held responsible for the lingering fuel scarcity.
Speaking during a visit to PPPRA, in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, also stated that the present fuel crisis witnessed across the country would end in Lagos and Abuja tomorrow, while it would end in other states of the federation by the end of the week.
Kachikwu also stated that as part of a long term strategy to eliminate fuel scarcity, especially with the issue of sourcing scarce foreign exchange, the Federal Government was considering the privatisation of the petroleum industry, where operators would be allowed to source for funding and run the industry, while government’s role would be felt in the area of price regulation.
On the planned review of petrol prices, he explained that the country had been able to save a lot of money within the first three months of the year, adding that the savings would be used to fund the gap recorded in pricing in April.
He said: “The reality is that in the first three months of the price modulation, our recovery basically enabled us to save quite a lot of money and that is going to fund the gap that we see in April. But for May, obviously, the prices would have to be adjusted to mark the current trends.
“Our proprietary positions are for two different concerns. As petroleum Minister, my goal is to make sure that the price of crude oil continues to climb, but as NNPC GMD, our goal is to ensure that people buy product at cheaper price. They do not go together somehow. So most time, I try to balance the curve.”
He lamented that the fuel queues had been a major headache for the government, while he emphasized the need for the right policies to be taken to bring the crisis to an end, once and for all.
“The whole fuel queues had been a complete nightmare for me. The reality is that I hurt more than every Nigerian who is at the filling stations. I am very emotional about my job and the things I do.
“We just need to take the right policies. As hard as they are, as difficult as they come, we need to take the right policies to ensure that we do not have a recurrence of this fuel subsidy. It has been with us historically, but I don’t want that to define my legacy in the petroleum sector.
“Hopefully, by tomorrow, Thursday, the fuel queues in Abuja should be over. Hopefully, the same thing should happen in Lagos and, thereafter, by the weekend, we should see same in Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Port Harcourt and a few other states,” he said.
However, Kachikwu maintained that his major concern was not in eliminating the present fuel queues, but in ensuring that such situation never repeats itself ever again in this country.
He said he intended doing this through the privatization of the petroleum industry.
He said: “To that, there are so many things we need to do. First is that strategic reserves have not been in this country for over 20 years. We need to bring that strategic reserve with a 60 to 90-day time products hold, so that we can respond within a couple of hours whenever there is shortage in any part of the country. Right now we need three weeks to respond.
“Two is that, we need to find the allocation of resources. For the first time, I have been able to convince the oil major producers, asking them to give scarce foreign exchange to the downstream players who bring fuel to us.
“That is not the futuristic long term solution. We need to find a way of being able to fund this sector and no better way than to steer it towards the privatization and allow them to go do their thing and PPPRA can modulate prices.
“We are going to be looking at that. And it is not necessarily synonymous with an increase in price. Hopefully, the price modulation that we have put in place will enable us do that.”
People would criticize, but I don’t bother
Kachikwu further stated that he was not moved by criticisms in the course of doing his work, even as he advised staff of the PPPRA to adopt a new attitude to work and take steps towards uplifting the organization and country.
He said: “When I get up every morning to go to work, I challenge and uplift myself. So any problem you throw at me, I’m ready. There are going to be criticisms, there are going to be spoilers, there are going to be those who will attack you, I don’t bother with those things. I have a very clear line of sight, which is on the goal post that I am trying to shoot.
Apologise to Nigerians —Ohuabunwa
Meanwhile, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians for creating hardship through his alleged inability to handle the country’s economy well, and also his failure to provide solution to the fuel crisis.
Ohuabunwa, who represents Abia North on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, told reporters, yesterday, that Buhari’s party men orchestrated the mass protest against what he called genuine intention of former President Goodluck Jonathan to deregulate the petroleum sector while he was in office.
He reasoned that if the deregulation had been allowed to scale through, Nigerians would not be going through the hardship they were currently experiencing as a result of the scarcity.
Ohuabunwa said: “It is unfortunate that Nigerians would have to go through this hardship in the midst of plenty; we are acclaimed the fifth largest oil producing nation.
“I think it is important that the government in power apologises to Nigerians because the level of hardship is getting too much.”
He called on the Federal Government not only to look for a way to ameliorate the suffering of the people but to also find a lasting solution to the problem.
He continued: “It is very clear that this scarcity has gone off hand, we cannot manage it, we have been on it for over two months now. The Minister of State has said it would abate in two weeks, but the Minister of Petroleum who is President Buhari has not said anything. We should look for a lasting solution so that we do not relapse into this again,” Ohuabunwa said.
We’should not be held responsible — IPMAN
However, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, said, yesterday, that its members were not to be held responsible for the lingering fuel scarcity.
IPMAN’s statement came as long queues took over major roads in Lagos, thereby causing traffic logjam.
The National Operations Controller of IPMAN, Mr Mike Osatuyi, while debunking the statement made by Mr Lawson Ngoa who claimed to be the interim management secretary of IPMAN, that IPMAN should be held responsible for the scarcity, said the crisis in the association should not be used to defend the systems failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
He said: “While the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in resolving the internal crisis in IPMAN is appreciated and commendable, the forefathers, past presidents, leaders of IPMAN and the general members of IPMAN nationwide will not allow Mr Lawson Ngoa who is not a marketer, let alone an IPMAN member, to use IPMAN’s name as a shield to defend or protect a systems failure of NNPC.
“It is pure defamation of IPMAN’s name to go on air that IPMAN has accepted responsibility for the scarcity of petroleum products and that Nigerians should hold IPMAN responsible for the scarcity.”
Osatuyi explained that IPMAN controlled over 80 per cent of the retail outlets in the country and had partnered with previous governments to solve fuel crisis.
He said: “It is also on record that no member of IPMAN has voiced out against peace since this government stepped in to resolve the crisis a few days ago. That is an evidence that IPMAN and all its members want peace and are ready to embrace peace for seamless operation of the association’s administration and by extension the Nigeria oil sector.”
“IPMAN doesn’t want any government agents, representatives, coordinators that will add more wound to the association’s injury or destroy its name. IPMAN members nationwide have invested trillions of Naira in the Nigeria downstream oil sector.”
Meanwhile, commuters and transporters have continued to groan as a result of the long queues being experienced at filling stations with the attendant traffic jam that left many road users spending a lot of man hours on the road.
For example, movement from Ojodu-Berger to Fadeyi, which normally takes about 20 minutes, took about two and half hours yesterday.
Vanguard also gathered that the prices of petrol at filling stations stood at between N200 and N250 per litre, where it is available, while roadside hawkers sold between N300 and N400 per litre, as against the official price of N86.50k
The situation was the same along Badagry road. According to Mr. Phillip Edewor, a motorist, “I have been to several stations at Badagry road. This has been the worst situation for me.
“The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the masses and address this challenge before it cripples the country’s economy.”
Another motorist, Mr. Donatus Bishung called for state of emergency on the petrol situation, adding that government has failed on its responsibility to deliver steady supply of petrol to the people.
“The situation will find ourselves in is disheartening and unacceptable for a country like ours’ that produces crude oil. I know for sure that this situation is one of the worst that has ever happen to us in Nigeria.
“We are unable to drive our cars. The challenge has increased because we are meant to pay much on transportation. Government should come to our plight and help us address these issues currently affecting all areas of our economy,” he added.