Abuja — Long queues of vehicles waiting to buy petrol from service stations on Tuesday resurfaced in some parts of the country, forcing the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, to cut short his official trip to London.
As at 1p.m. yesterday when THISDAY concluded its round of visits to service stations in Maitama, Wuse, Jabi, along Kubwa Expressway and Nyanya axis, vehicular queues had built up, but the stations were dispensing at the official pump price of N143 to N145 per litre.
At the NNPC station close to the popular Wuse Market end of the district, queues for petrol were building up to the Aminu Kano Way, while the corporation's mega station along the Kubwa Expressway also had queues for petrol.
In Jabi, THISDAY observed queues at a NIPCO filling station which was equally dispensing to consumers. Attendants at the station said they had fuel and were surprised at the sudden build up of queues at their station.
Similarly, motorists who bought petrol from the Ascon station along the IBB Way in Wuse, said they spent an average of 30 minutes to get in and out of the station with petrol in their tanks. In Gwanripa, the situation was quite different as the length of the queues appeared to have been more than what was observed in some parts of the city.
However, the NNPC in a statement from its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, reiterated that there was no need for the sudden return of queues at petrol stations across the country, stating that it had enough stocks.
The NNPC also informed that following the return of these queues, Baru had to cut short his trip to London, where he had gone to receive a Forbes award to him as its 'Oil and Gas Man of the Year' for 2017.
It said in the statement that Baru would be back in the country to resolve the fuel supply and distribution challenges, adding that it was as a result of panic buying by motorists.
The statement also quoted Baru to have called on Nigerians to stop panic buying and that the NNPC was doing everything within its reach to address the situation.
"For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on all Nigerians to stop panic buying. We have said times without number that NNPC has sufficient products to cater for the needs of all consumers," Baru stated in the statement.
The statement further explained that before leaving for London, Baru, had directed that more truckload of petroleum products be dispatched to various parts of the country to cushion the effects of excessive demand which he noted was caused by panic buying.
The NNPC had on Monday stated that there was no plan to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming Christmas celebration.
It said the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and the pump price of N143 to N145 per litre had not changed.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream has summoned Baru over increasing fuel queues surfacing in different parts of the country.
Baru is expected to appear before the committee on Thursday.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, told journalists yesterday afternoon that the members would also embark on inspection at service stations across the country.
This, he said, is to avoid the situation where some unpatriotic persons would cause unnecessary hardships for Nigerians in the festive season.
"We will take time out to embark on a serious oversight. We will break into sub-committees to be able to cover the entire country for the inspection," he said.
The sub-committees would be armed with details of daily distribution to ascertain the quantity of fuel given to each service station, he added.
"We will also get these details from the filling stations to ascertain when last they got supplies and the quantity sold. We will not stop at that. We will also inspect tanks in filling stations to ensure that Nigerians are not taken advantage of," Marafa added.
He disclosed that the seriousness of the situation informed the need to summon Maikanti himself.
Marafa however noted that the NNPC already issued statements informing that there is no need for panic buying.
"There is an Executive Director in charge of Downstream who oversees the downstream generally. There is also the Managing Director of Petroleum and Product Marketing Company.
"The NNPC has also been directed to look at their supply chain and inform the relevant agencies of their supplies to various stations while they work with that plan to see that anybody found hoarding the product will be sanctioned," Marafa added.