Fuel Scarcity: Senate To Grill Kachikwu, Baru, DPR Today
The Senate will today (Thursday) question the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Maikanti Baru, over the current crisis in the supply chain of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.
Also to appear before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) are regulatory bodies, marketers and other stakeholders in the petroleum sector.
The investigative hearing, which will hold in Room 231 at the Senate wing of the National Assembly Complex, is expected to be aired live by the Nigerian Television Authority.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had last Thursday directed the committee to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with stakeholders in the petroleum sector over the current scarcity of petrol.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, had on Friday raised questions on the alleged payment of N26 per litre to subsidise the pump price of petrol, which the NNPC put its landing cost at N171 but sells at N145.
He had asked how the Federal Government, through the NNPC, was maintaining a pump price of N145 per litre when the landing cost of the commodity was now N171.
Marafa and Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists on the matter in Abuja on Friday, stated that the Senate was set to move against anybody or organisation found to have caused the crisis.
According to Mafara, those to be grilled include the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, and the Department of Petroleum Resources.
Marafa had said, “While this problem is raging, we hear of accusations and counter-accusations from the NNPC, IPMAN, DAPMAN and MOMAN, with letters flying all over the place over hoarding and sabotage.
“Part of what we are going to ask is, we were told that there is subsidy. If there is subsidy, who approved the subsidy? We are the only ones who can appropriate money (for the government), nobody else. That is why the Senate spoke resoundingly before going on recess when they talked about taking $1bn (from the Excess Crude Account) to fight insurgency. Nobody can take any money without the approval of the Senate. If you do that, you are breaching the provisions of the Constitution.
He added, “So, if you are going to provide for subsidy, you have to come to the parliament. We need to know and that is part of what we are going to ask.
“Now, if they say there is subsidy when the price (of petrol) rose to N145, the common belief by all Nigerians was that subsidy was gone and gone for good. Now, they are telling us that the landing cost of petrol is N171. If it is N171, who approved the subsidy or payment of the remaining balance? Where is it buried? Who appropriated it? What are we going to do in the next few days, months and years to come? We need to address these issues squarely because a lot of Nigerians are misinformed about this subsidy issue.
“Between 2006 and the figures we have for 2016, the NNPC alone got N5.1tn for subsidy, while the marketers collected over N4tn. Put them together, we are talking of over N10tn spent on subsidy. I am asking, what is the impact of these monies that are being paid on our behalf to subsidise petroleum products? Why are we afraid? If we take the N10tn to the road sector or railway, power, agriculture, what are we going to expect?
“We need to ask some very honest questions. We should not be sentimental about these things.”
The lawmaker had also hinted that the panel would seek a review of the supply policy adopted by the current administration.
Meanwhile, the Warri zonal office of the DPR on Wednesday said it sealed off no fewer than 80 filling stations across Delta State since the fuel scarcity started about a month ago.
The Warri Zonal Operation Controller, DPR, Mr. Antai Asuquo, who stated this on Wednesday after a state-wide monitoring exercise, said majority of the affected stations were shut for selling petrol above the N145 Federal Government approved pump price.
Asuquo stated that other stations were sealed off for hoarding, diversion and absconding upon sighting officials of the DPR.
After a brief relief, queues of desperate motorists and other users of petrol returned to filling stations in Lagos and parts of Ogun State on Wednesday.
Many stations were shut on Wednesday in the two states, while some of the ones that dispensed the product sold above the pump price of N145 per litre.
On the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, outbound Lagos, the queues of motorists at some of the few stations that sold the product spilled onto the roads.
Last weekend, the NNPC claimed that it had successfully cleared the petrol queues in Abuja and Lagos with the commitment to increase truck-outs to other states to restore normalcy to the petrol supply and distribution across the country.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, had said, “As far as truck-out is concerned, we have more than doubled the number of trucks that are going out into the country. We have stepped up the number of truck-outs to 1,733 as a minimum and we have sustained this for a week and there will be more than enough products for motorists in the weeks ahead.
“We have maintained our position that this scarcity is self-inflicted by marketers. The NNPC has more than 30-day sufficiency of supply of petroleum products, especially PMS, and at the current consumption rate of about 27 million to 28 million litres per day, we should be very comfortable until the end of January 2018 even if we don’t import a drop of petrol into this country.”
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, indicated that the resumption of work after the holidays might have caused the re-emergence of fuel queues.
“The NNPC has maintained supply but let us watch what will happen in the next two, three days about the queues. At the meeting we had yesterday (Tuesday), it was maintained that the supply would be sustained by the NNPC, and all the stakeholders agreed to work together to ensure that Nigerians don’t continue to suffer,” he stated.
A top official of a Lagos-based oil marketing company, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, described the supply of the product as epileptic, adding that the supply had reduced.
“Government cannot meet up the demand now because the cost involved is too much. Government is just trying to do a palliative; while they need three vessels, they bring one. Loading at the depots cannot improve if supply does not improve,” he said.
Efforts to reach the officials of MOMAN and the DAPPMA on the telephone were not successful.
Last week, the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, had said the latest round of fuel scarcity might end in a few days’ time if the NNPC sustained the current level of supply of petrol.
“The NNPC has been giving us product and we have been distributing it; all what we are hoping for is that they should continue at the rate they are giving us,” he had stated.
His counterpart at DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, had said last Thursday that all possible steps were being taken to cooperate with the NNPC to eliminate the fuel queues nationwide within the next few days.