EDITORIAL: The arrival of fuel queue

EDITORIAL: The arrival of fuel queue

Long fuel queues have reemerged at major fuel stations across the nation, signalling the commencement of another round of fuel scarcity. The signal started manifesting few days ago when rumour sifted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC had plans to increase the pump price of petroleum products. But the Corporation was quick to dispel the rumour describing it as untrue. Despite assurances given by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC against any impending fuel crisis, most filling stations, particularly in the South-west part of the country, are still without the product.

Vague reasons have been given for the resurrection of the queues all over the country. The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) blamed the situation on a cabal in the downstream sector. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has laid the blame at the doorstep of hoarders. NUPENG is of the opinion that until the nation’s four refineries is fixed, the nightmare cannot be dealt with permanently. However, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) rising from its weekly meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja had ordered the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to immediately restore normalcy.

This perennial scarcity of petrol in a country that is ranked among the world’s top oil exporters appeared to have defied solution, in spite of the retinue of contractors who collect multibillion dollar fees from the government to import the product, but deliver little in return.

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Nigeria’s dependence on imported fuel abandons it helpless against supply interruptions, for example, the one that occurred in 2015, when a dispute between fuel importers and the government prompted an across-the-nation lack of gas. Nigeria produces huge measures of oil. In any case, the nation has few working refineries, leaving Nigeria dependent on imports to fill up gas tanks across the country. It is an oddity of Nigeria: the country produces more crude than anywhere else in Africa. In any case, it relies upon imported fuel and diesel to keep the lights on and autos running across the nation

Nigerians are by now tired of rationalisations; of endless promises that fall short of permanently stabilising the fuel supply situation. Indeed, they have become weary of putting up with such perennial misjudgments by the NNPC given their sheer toll on the people and the economy. They are tired of plans without results.

We call on federal government to ensure that fuel is available during the Yuletide and post-January.

We urge that appropriate regulatory agencies should be given the marching orders to move against filling stations suspected to be creating the artificial scarcity. Where such products are kept underground, they should be taken over and dispensed to the suffering motorists free of charge. Hoarding of commodities is a serious economic crime and no perpetrator found guilty of it should be spared from receiving appropriate sanctions. Government must not allow few greedy individuals to hold the nation to ransom.  The Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC should take immediate remedial measures to end the current scarcity, apparently caused by oil marketers but with the connivance of government officials. It goes without saying that a more lasting solution would be the revival of all of Nigeria’s oil refineries and the building of new ones.

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Furthermore, AljazirahNigeria maintains that the solution to the problem of petroleum products scarcity in Nigeria is the ability to build new refineries with local technology, instead of spending whopping sums of money importing experts to come and maintain our gigantic foreign refineries that can never work. The startling funds used in paying ‘experts’ to come and service our refineries that have outlived their existence would have been better channeled into research or encouragement for the operators of illegal refineries, commonly referred to as bunkeries.

Refining crude oil locally will not only make available enough products for local consumption, but will provide employment for our teeming population of unemployed youths.
It also stands to beef up our external earnings, as foreign exchange rate will naturally rise.

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