By Udeme Akpan
Worried about the prolonged fuel scarcity in all parts of the Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has, for the first time, summoned stakeholders in the sub-sector of the economy to a major engagement in Aso Rock tomorrow (Monday).
Investigation by Sunday Vanguard over the weekend, showed that the parties invited included Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources; Mr. Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Mr. Mordecai Ladan, Director, Department of Petroleum Resources; Mr. Femi Olawore, Executive Secretary, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN; Mr. Mike Osatuyi, National Operation Controller, Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN; and Mr Olufemi Adewole, Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA.
Reliable sources privy to the invitation made Sunday Vanguard to understand that the crucial engagement is targeted at finding lasting solutions to the crisis that has already impacted very negatively on the nation’s post recession economy.
Specifically, it was gathered that the meeting, to be presided over by Buhari, who doubles as the nation’s Petroleum Minister, will review all the issues involved in the scarcity, embrace the inputs of stakeholders and adopt measures that could assist to end it.
Informed sources disclosed that the meeting will also seek to end the blame game, as well as forge closer cooperation among stakeholders, especially NNPC and oil marketers. It would be recalled that members of DAPPMA had earlier identified inadequate supply as a major cause of the scarcity, explaining that their filling stations were not supplied with fuel.
The NNPC, in a statement in Abuja by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, had described DAPPMA’s claims as unfortunate, stating that it had continued to supply the marketers huge quantities of the product despite the group’s N26.7 billion debts to its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, as at December 21, 2017.
But the Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, countered in a statement that members have paid for petrol supplied (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.
“It is an indisputable fact that DAPPMA members have paid for petrol supply (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90bn, yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such, how can we be held responsible for hoarding?
“PPMC/NNPC do not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit, hence 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.
“Marketers have continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600bn debt owed our members and over N800bn owed marketers as a whole by the Federal Government. We assure Nigerians, irrespective of NNPC’s stance that all possible steps are being taken as we have always done, to co-operate with PPMC/NNPC to eliminate the fuel queues nationwide within the next few days.”
Senate prepares to engage Kachikwu, Baru, others
There are indications that the coming weeks will be loaded with many engagements as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has already directed the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with industry stakeholders.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa disclosed this in Abuja, adding that the Committee has summoned Dr. Kachikwu, Mr. Baru and other relevant stakeholders in the petroleum sector to a crucial meeting on January 4, 2018.
He added that the meeting which will be held in the Senate Hearing Room 221 and its proceedings aired live on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, is meant to address the lingering fuel scarcity bedevilling the nation in the last few weeks with a view to stopping the unsavoury development.
The Senate, which is presently on Yuletide break, is billed to resume Committee work for budget defence on January 9 and commence plenary on January 16.
Investigations by Sunday Vanguard in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the nation showed that the fuel supply situation has not yet shown much remarkable improvement.
Long queues were still observed in many parts of the nation, including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Benin and Calabar.
While any stations were completely shut, others that had the product sold at different prices between N145 and N250 per litre, depending on location.
Officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, were seen making frantic efforts to monitor and sanction culprits. But Sunday Vanguard gathered that their efforts may not yield much fruits because of limited personnel and resources to police activities in all parts of the nation.