LAGOS—To address the current scarcity of fuel across the country, stakeholders weekend, recommended among others, for more participation of private sector in the importation of product and the involvement of all security agencies and Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, in the monitoring of products distribution to check smuggling. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, may be given 18 months to fix the refineries to increase capacity to refine petroleum products for domestic consumption, thus removing unnecessary costs associated with massive importation from the international market. These were some of the recommendations of the committee set up by the Federal Government to find lasting solutions to the nation’s prolonged fuel scarcity. The refineries located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Warri, Delta State and Kaduna, Kaduna State have the collective capacity to refine 445,000 barrels of crude oil per day for domestic utilisation. From NNPC latest report, the refineries’ collective capacity has dropped significantly as a result of irregular maintenance, especially in the past few years. Director of Press in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Idang Alibi, when contacted, yesterday, by Vanguard on details of the report, declined comment. He said that: “It will be inappropriate and unprofessional to disclose the details of the report to be presented to Mr. President at this time. “It is after the presentation and approval that we will inform the media and by extension the general public. It is not possible for me to disclose the details it at this time.”
C’ttee to submit report today
But a reliable committee source at the meeting, who pleaded not to be named because he was not permitted to speak, said report will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari today. He said the committee, which held its last sitting in Abuja, Friday night, also proposed to get oil marketers involved in fuel importation to increase available local supply. The source disclosed that the major and independent marketers as well as other parties interested in importing fuel will be given priority in the allocation of foreign exchange. DPR, customs, others to monitor distribution He indicated that the report made a case for improved monitoring by key agencies, especially the DPR, the police and customs as part of fuel meant for domestic utilisation has been diverted or smuggled to other West African nations. The source said that the report stressed the need to ensure immediate settlement of N800 billion fuel subsidy debts, which the government currently owed the marketers to repay bank loans as well as embark on fuel importation. He said the report also called on the Federal Government to encourage private investors, including Dangote Group, to complete the construction of refineries in the country. The source said the report will be implemented immediately it is approved by President Buhari, adding that fuel scarcity was a very serious issue with security implication, which the government cannot ignore.
The survey of the situation by Vanguard showed that there is improvement in some states, especially Abuja and Lagos at press time. But nothing has changed in other states, particularly Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Rivers, Bayelsa and Oyo.
Treat fuel diversion as terrorism, Aremu tell FG
Meanwhile, as shortages of petrol persist nationwide, Vice President of Industrial Global Union, Mr Issa Aremu, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to rise to the occasion by addressing scarcity to save the masses from fur ther hardship. The labour leader urged the government to treat diversion of fuel otherwise known as Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, as an act of terrorism, henceforth. Aremu, who spoke at a lecture to commemorate his 57th birthday in Ilorin, Kwara State, yesterday, also challenged the citizens to resist any attempt to hike fuel pump price , saying such move will be uncharitable to the citizens.