Maitama Sule wants more refineries as fuel scarcity persists

Osinbajo and Maitama Sule

Osinbajo and Maitama Sule

• Petrol now sells for N220 in Abuja, N180 in Lagos
• ASUU vows to join protest against petrol price increase
• Dons urge withdrawal of budget to reflect govt policy direction
• Mega station owners accuse NNPC, govt officials of sabotage

An elder statesman, Maitama Sule, has advised the Federal Government to establish more refineries to tackle the perennial shortage of petrol in the country. He said that “although the move by the government to establish new refineries is likely to take time, that is one of the ways to ensure stability in the domestic market.”

While emphasising that Nigeria will overcome the current intractable fuel supply challenge, he said that Nigeria had always been immersed in one challenge or the other since independent and overcame most of them, especially those that threatened the corporate existence of the country.

He also urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, develop an energy policy that will spell out the direction of government on the energy sector to end the perennial fuel scarcity.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday on the perennial fuel queues that have bedevilled the country in the past few months, Maitama Sule said the energy policy would provide the platform for engagement of all the stakeholders in the sector and make business forecast easier.

The elder statesman also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to separate the core business of the oil and gas sector from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to attract internationally qualified manpower to run the sector.

His words: “If we want to make maximum benefits from our oil, we must excise the oil sector from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and make it an independent body. That was what we did when we started with the National Oil Corporation (NOC), which later became Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). We did that because we wanted to attract some oil workers. Oil workers are very expensive and well-paid and cannot be paid the same we pay civil servants.”

He called for the sustenance of dialogue between government and the relevant stakeholders to end the fuel queues.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Product and Marketing Company (NPMC) yesterday confirmed that it has continued to roll in fuel cargoes on daily basis with hopes that the queues would ease off very soon.

The spokesperson, NPMC, Mr. Israel Edjerin, told The Guardian that the company had continued to meet its commitment of fuel supply ensuring that the products get to the appropriate destination accordingly.

As of yesterday, a larger percentage of filling stations in Ogun State were yet to get products, while the few marketers that have stock were selling between N160 and 180 per litre.

In Lagos, a significant number of filling stations were selling amid very long queues, but the situation in Lekki/Ajah axis seems to be easing off, with queues becoming shorter.

Besides, fuel is now being sold for N230 per litre in most filling stations in Port Harcourt.

A motorist, Mr. Clifford Igwebueze, told The Guardian in Port Harcourt that he was forced to buy the product from a filling station along Eliozu Road at N260 per litre.

However, some of the fuel importers have continued to groan under the challenges of foreign exchange scarcity, lamenting the implications of this situation on import procedures.

A major marketer yesterday said that banks don’t have foreign exchange, while the parallel market was selling above the official rate of N197 to a dollar.

Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Obafemi Olawore, was quoted yesterday as saying that the banks are selling to his members at above N300 to a dollar, adding they had already made official complaint to the Central Bank of Nigeria through the Minister of Petroleum, who is already discussing the matter with the banks.

He said only two International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the upstream and downstream of the oil and gas sector are ready to assist with needed foreign exchange for the offshore purchase of the commodity.

In Kwara State, over 95 per cent of major marketers of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) have shut their gates against consumers of the product while long queues of vehicles at the filling stations of independent marketers have receded by about 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, as fuel scarcity persists in the North and other parts of the country, members of the Association of Mega Filling Station Owners of Nigeria (AMFSON) yesterday alleged that some people are sabotaging the efforts of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, from ending the fuel crisis in Nigeria.

They said the lingering fuel scarcity in the country was the making of highly-placed persons in the industry and other places of authorities in the country.

The association, therefore, has threatened to come out publicly with names of the saboteurs if pushed to the wall.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, National Secretary of AMFSON, Mr. Kenneth Nwachukwu, said members of the association had in recent past resisted the urge to mention the saboteurs even when the minister insisted we mention names.

Nwachukwu alleged that several trucks of fuel had been diverted into black markets by the saboteurs at the detriment of mega-station owners and Nigerians in general.

He pointed out that it was for the reason of fuel scarcity that the immediate past government established mega affiliate stations to cushion its negative effect on Nigerians, while urging the minister, who is also the Group Managing Director of NNPC, to address the plight of AMFSON members to help in ending the fuel crisis.

In another development, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared its intention to join the labour movement and its civil society allies to mount massive protests if government policies lead to increase in the price of petrol.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja on the state of the nation, President of the association, Nasir Fagge, said the lingering fuel crisis has widened the distance between the government and the people and has also created distrust between the people and the government while government is slow in implementing the policies it pronounced in 2015.

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