Hopes that worsening fuel queues experienced in Abuja and some other cities may soon wear out, was on Wednesday dimmed as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Slyva again attributed the challenges associated with fuel supply to the forces of deregulation and distribution chain system largely controlled by independent oil marketers.
The Federal Government,through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC Limited, has ensured adequate supplies of fuel products but marketing outlets bent on shortchanging the populace by hiking the price are largely responsible for the crisis.
Sylva’s clarifications came on Wednesday, shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari before his departure to Senegal for the IDA summit.
His explanations came just as the Federal Executive Council equally approved the award of contracts and procurement for the provision of a conference hostel facility in Yenagoa adjacent to the Nigerian content towers for the sum of N22 billion.
The project was awarded to Megastar technical construction company with a construction timeframe of 24 months.
Reacting to the fuel queues, he said, “Of course, I was expecting that question. Frankly, it is not a supply issue, as you can also confirm. So it’s not from us. But you know When you have an arbitrary opportunity, people will tend to take advantage of it. These are some of the fallouts of the subsidy regime.
If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja, in most places, only in the Abuja metropolis you continue to have these queues. Is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices, within Abuja, because of the watchful eyes of the federal government, they cannot sell at those prices.
So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all the things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.
But that actually is the problem, it’s not a supply problem, the country is well supplied as it is. NNPC has a very good supply. So it is not a problem from us, but it is the marketers. But we are engaging the marketers and will continue to engage them. In fact, before now NATO said, Oh, because diesel prices were now going up. And of course, you know that diesel is deregulated already.
So, because diesel prices have gone up, the cost of their moving product has also gone up and therefore, we must try to do something about the bridging cost. We did that with them, we were able to respond to that and they were able to do something for NATO.
Of course, the rest of the marketers are also saying oh no, we must try to add a few things for them here and there. But we can’t continue as a government to increase the subsidy we cannot continue to do that. Because of that, they are now saying Okay, in this Abuja metropolis where they feel it is right at the centre, they are not probably supplying the product as they are supplying to other places. But you will agree with me that there are no queues outside Abuja.
I don’t know whether there are queues in some places in Lagos, but the queues are reported mostly in Abuja, and in some parts of Lagos not every part of Lagos, wherever they think they can sell at higher prices. There are no queues.
But wherever they cannot sell at prices higher than the recommended price there are queues. that is the situation we find ourselves for now.
We are still dealing with that, we are engaging them. And of course, I’m sure even that is going to be taken care of, but it is not a supply problem from the government”.
Commenting on the demise of the outgoing Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC, Muhammad Barkindo, the Minister said the late Scribe of OPEC would be remembered for helping to stabilise the oil and gas industry.
This is quite a sad one. Alhaji Barkindo was a dear friend and really served this country, both in Nigeria and internationally. meritoriously. Yesterday, Mr. President received him in audience and directed that we give him a very benefiting welcome home. Unfortunately, and of course, yesterday he was also at the Nigerian oil and gas conference, I was with him there, and he made a very brilliant speech as was characteristic of him. To hear that by this morning, he was already gone. It’s very sad news for all of us.
Barkindo has contributed a lot. He was GMD of NNPC, as you know, and he helped to stabilize the oil industry. He is a very, very towering figure in the oil industry. And from there, he proceeded to become the Secretary-General and represented Nigeria very effectively, and served meritoriously for the full two terms, and was coming home, of course, and was here to be received, and we were really trying to roll out the drums for him according to Mr. President’s directive, and unfortunately, this sad event happened last night.
My heart goes to his family and to all of us and to Nigerians for this very great loss”.