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FG To Review Fuel Prices As Scarcity Continues

Tuesday, the Federal Government disclosed plans to increase the price of petrol next month. This came after the Acting Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, asked the Federal Government to automate the operations of the PPPRA to improve transparency and form a pricing framework to encourage local refining and discourage importation of petroleum products in the long term.


Senator Mao Ohuabunwa has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to apologize to Nigerians for his inability to handle the country’s economy and for creating hardship for them with the fuel crisis. 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 apologizes to Nigerians because the level of hardship is getting too much.” 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”.


In Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated the fuel scarcity would end in Lagos and Abuja tomorrow, while it would end in other states by the end of the week. He also stated that the Federal Government was considering the privatization of the petroleum industry, so that the operators would source and run the industry, while the government would only be involved in price regulation. He explained that with regulating the petrol prices, 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 times, I try to balance the curve. 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, Kachichukwu maintained that his major concern was in ensuring that the situation never repeats itself in the country again. 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.”


Kachichukwu further stated that he was not affected by the criticism that his office has gotten and advised staff of the PPPRA to form a new attitude to take steps towards uplifting the organization and the 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.”


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. The National Operations Controller of IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, while discrediting the statement made by Mr. Lawson Ngoa, who claimed to be the interim management secretary of IPMAN and stated 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.”


He explained that IPMAN controlled over 80% 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.”


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