By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Federal Government said, yesterday, Nigerians, especially residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and some other cities, may continue to witness fuel queues until there was complete deregulation of petrol.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister also said the council approved the award and procurement for provision of a conference hostel facility in Yenagoa, adjacent to the Nigerian Content Towers at N22 billion to Megastar Technical Construction Company, with completion period of 24 months.
Responding to questions on the persistent fuel queues in Abuja and some other parts of the country, the minister said the situation, particularly in the FCT, would persist for a while until fuel was finally deregulated.
He explained that the fuel queues were not caused by shortages in supply of fuel but for the reluctance of petroleum marketers to sell at the recommended retail price.
According to him, there are queues in Abuja because selling at the recommended N165/litre of fuel is unprofitable to marketers, who resolved to take advantage by diverting products from the city centre to where they could sell above the recommended retail price.
He said: “If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja. In most places, it is only in Abuja metropolis you continue to have these queues. So, it is as though there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country.
“It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices.”
Giving updates on the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, Sylva said the Port-Harcourt refinery would soon become operational, adding that the Dangote Refinery would commence operation by January next year.
“So, these issues will gradually be resolved and we will get to the point where Nigeria will be fully supplied from in-country refined products,” he assured.
On why Kaduna and Warri Refineries’ workers were still drawing salaries, even when they were not producing anything, the minister explained that most of the workers had been redeployed, with a few others doing skeletal services to prevent pilfering at the facilities.
Blames Russia/Ukraine war for increase in price of diesel
Commenting on the high cost of gas (diesel), the minister said it was so because the product had been deregulated.
“But of course, you know the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Russia is still on and it’s really affecting the global prices of this commodity.
‘’So, it is not really something from Nigeria. It is something that is affecting the global community; everywhere in the world is having the same problem. If you go to the UK, they are still talking about inflation; if you go to America, they’re talking about inflation, because there are issues and it’s all coming from the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Russia.
Centre of excellence for environmental restoration in Ogoni
Also briefing, the Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abdullahi, said council awarded the contract for consultancy services and design of centre of excellence for environmental restoration with an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre at the sum of N449,250,040.50 (VAT inclusive).
He explained that the centre was in fulfillment of the president’s promise to Ogoni people and was meant to impact on them in terms of employment generation and laboratory tests for land remediation efforts on the site contaminated, so it could be made easily cultivatable by the people for their fisheries, farming activities and access to water.