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Fuel Scarcity: Nigerian Government working to restore normalcy quickly –Minister

*President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that we must ensure the fuel supply situation in the country should be normalised quickly –Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As scarcity of petroleum products bites harder with attendant socio-economic implications on consumers, the Federal Government has assured that it is committed to ensuring the scarcity of and queues for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, are resolved.

ConsumerConnect reports H. E. Chief Timipre Sylva, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, stated this Friday, February 3, 2023, when speaking with reporters after inspecting some filling stations in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Sylva said: “Mr President directed that we must ensure that the fuel supply situation is normalised quickly.

“And that is why I have to ensure that we sort out this problem.”

The Minister also noted that “a lot of things have been done.

“All hands have been on deck, the NNPC Limited, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), and stakeholders in the supply chain have come together to ensure that the problem is resolved.

“This is not the time for us to apportion blames as the most important thing is that the problem has been resolved and you can see now the queues are no longer there, at least in the FCT we are going around to ensure they have disappeared.”

Fuel marketers and price racketeering

The Minister of State for petroleum frowned at fuel marketers reported to be selling above approved price, especially in other states.

According to him, such an infraction as a regulatory issue is within the purview of the NMDPRA (The Authority) to sanction those erring marketers.

The Authority will tackle the issue, stated he.

In regard to conflicting ex-depot prices, Sylva described it as commercial details under the purview of the NNPC Limited, and he would ensure that all those conflicting problems are resolved.

It is recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved constitution of a 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution management.

The Committee is mandated to find a lasting solution to the apparent disruptions in distribution of petroleum products across the West African country.

The Minister further stressed that the Steering Committee is also part of the solution mechanism.

He assured the body would be inaugurated the following week to ensure that the situation normalise totally.

Challenges of fuel importation

Sylva stated: “If you look at the fuel situation in Nigeria, it has a lot of ramifications.

“The importation of the petroleum product is a problem because a lot of people cannot access the Foreign Exchange (Forex).”

The Minister as well noted: “The fuel situation also has nothing to do with politics.

“Anything, including natural disasters like flood can trigger the fuel distribution hindrance because they are natural factors we are not in control of.”

He added: “A lot of the problems that caused fuel scarcity and queues are not within our control there are also all kinds of people who are ready to take advantage of situations and caused problems by seeking opportunity to make money, hoard and smuggle the product.

“These require intervention of the security agencies and the recent engagement with them definitely helped.”

Consumer experience and strategies for energy efficiency

The Minister expressed sadness about the situation which had subjected Nigerian consumers to pain and frustration.

He said the President was also pained that the citizens were passing through the hardship at this time.

However, Sylva noted the Federal Government, in a bid to further ensure energy sufficiency, is rehabilitating the oil refineries across the country, and modular refineries are being enabled.

The government is doing everything to ensure scarcity did not reoccur again, he said.

The Minister stated: “We had to take 20 percent stake in Dangote Refinery, these are all efforts by the government to ensure the problem is solved permanently.”

Mr. Francis Sule, Manager, Conoil Filling Station, in Abuja, confirmed that the queues had reduced Friday, agency report said.

Sule observed that one of the problems the station encountered was associated with Point of Sale (PoS) machine transactions.

Majority of the motorists also confirmed that the queues had reduced and appealed to the government to sustain the effort and measures put in place.

Besides, the NNPC Limited reportedly engaged with the oil marketers and security agencies with a view to exploring ways of addressing the perennial fuel crisis in Nigeria.

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