Kachikwu Speaks On How Fuel Scarcity Will End In States Today
The minister of States for Petroleum; Kachikwu Ibe, has given a breakdown of how fuel scarcity will end in states today being Wednesday, 6 April. The minister gave the assurance on April 5, at a town hall meeting with workers of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja. Kachikwu, who noted that while he expects an end to scarcity in both cities from today, other states in the country like Port Harcourt, Warri, Sokoto and Kano, would start experiencing improvement in petroleum supply by the weekend. The minister reiterated that the government’s decision to privatise the country’s downstream petroleum sector remains the best way to solve the consistent challenges of fuel scarcity.
In his words:
“Today we have the whole fuel queues and it is a complete nightmare for me. It is being a lot of work but the reality is that I hurt more like every Nigerian who is at the filling station. I am very emotional about my job and the things that I do.
“There isn’t sufficient reason why Nigerians should suffer this much, we just need to take the right policies as difficult as it comes, we need to take the right policies to ensure that we do not have this recurrence of fuel scarcity, it’s been with us historically, but I don’t want that to define my legacy in the petroleum industry.
“Hopefully by tomorrow through Thursday the fuel queues in Abuja should be over, hopefully the same thing will happen to Lagos and thereafter, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Port Harcourt and Warri get off this state.
The minister noted that it was imperative for the country to seek viable way to keep her downstream sector working proficiently to avoid recurrent scarcity of products. “What concerns me more is not just getting the present queues out that will definitely wear out, what concerns me more is how we can avoid having reoccurrences of fuel scarcity ever again in the country and to do that there are certain things we need to do.
“First is that strategic reserve have not been in this country for over 20 years, we need to bring back strategic reserve that should serve 60 to 90 day type of product hold so that we can respond within a matter of hours when there is shortage in any part of the country.
“Two is that we need to find how to handle allocation of resources, for the first time I have been able to convince the major oil producers to allocate scarce foreign exchange to the downstream players to enable them bring in product. “But that is not a futuristic long term solution, so we need to find a way of being able to fund this sector to do its work and there is no better way than to steer it to that path of privatization. Let them go and do their things, we are going to have to look 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,” he said.
Kachikwu, who explained further the basis for a long term solution, had this to say: “But really, in the states, we do not have queues as such, people are paying double the price to get product, and there is no place for that practice, not right but what it says to you is that obviously, there are some statistical philosophy we need to watch in terms of whether we are pricing our products rightly for people to be able to participate in this chain.” The minister during the meeting urged the PPPRA workers to emulate his passion towards service while executing their tasks. “First and foremost I am a servant and am here to try and serve you and the Nigerian public. “There isn’t any problem I have seen that does not have a solution; every problem must have a solution. What we need to do is to do research thoroughly, find that solution, target it and execute it, and that is what I have been doing, because the petroleum ministry is the last hope of Nigeria, we are the 90 per cent earner, we are the foreign exchange galvaniser, if we fail, this country fails”. Kachikwu also added: “We have to ensure there is accountability and professionalism in everything we do. We are very conservative about our costs, and we will continue to cut cost. Everything we do is a mirror of what Nigeria needs to do to be successful as a country.” “If there is no power, we complain, but if there is no fuel, we will bring down this country, if there is fraud anywhere, we will say; well, that is OK, but if there is fraud in NNPC, we will bring down this country. What this says to you is that so much is expected of this ministry and we must take leadership.”
Kachikwu, who also hinted on his plans to reposition the PPPRA, said it was important for the workers to advance their careers, adding that they are already working towards making sure that promotions that are long overdue are all done as they would be looking into that within the next two weeks. However, the hardship fuel scarcity has brought upon Nigerians is enormous as the product is sold in some filling stations across Lagos for as high as N200 per litre, while black marketers currently sell for N300 per litter.