28 December 2017

Nigeria: Blame Game Continues As Fuel Scarcity Persists in Abuja

Photo: Premium Times
Fuel scarcity.

Abuja — The relief felt in Lagos is yet to extend to Abuja as shortage of fuel persisted in the nation's federal capital territory wednesday.

Long queues remained the main feature of most part of the capital motorists spent hours waiting to be served the now essential commodity.

In the meantime, the blame game on the cause of the acute shortage of the commodity continued yesterday with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) describing as 'very unfortunate' claims by the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) that it (NNPC) was largely responsible for the scarcity of petrol in the country.

This occurs just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded that the federal government should speak out on reports of alleged fraud in the oil regime whereupon 18 unregistered companies were said to have been used to lift and divert $1.1 trillion worth of crude oil in the last one year.

In a statement by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, the NNPC exonerated itself from DAPPMA's accusations that it had not supplied its members petrol, and that its Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) products supply scheme had broken down, hence, the supply glitches that led to the scarcity.

DAPPMA, on Tuesday alleged that its members had fully paid the NNPC through its subsidiary, the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) in advance for petroleum products in excess of 500,000 metric tonnes, or about 800 million litres, but that their depots and tank farms were still empty because supplies had not got to them.

It equally blamed the unending fuel crisis on the challenges in the DSDP scheme within which it claimed some participants failed in their deliveries, rising price of petrol in the international market and the high interest rates charged by banks in Nigeria.

However, the corporation said in its reply to DAPPMA, that while it made efforts to meet their products demands, they still owed it N26.7 billion as at December 21, 2017.

NNPC explained that based on this, DAPPMA's claims were unjustifiable and unfounded.

The corporation said: "NNPC wishes to affirm that it has supplied appreciable volume to DAPPMA, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to rid the challenges currently being experienced in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.

"NNPC regrets that DAPPMA which members had taken receipts of products from Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of NNPC and owe the company to the tune of N26.7 billion as at December 21, 2017, has the audacity to indict NNPC unjustifiably."

It added that: "The statement by DAPPMA that the current hiccups in the supply of products was due to the inability of the Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) partners of NNPC to deliver on their business obligations is unfounded and self-indicting as many of DAPPMA members patronised the same DSDP international counterparts as the corporation."

It explained that: "Despite the concession by the government giving access to DAPPMA to obtain Forex at an official rate of N305 per dollar for PMS import, their members have not been able to do so, leaving NNPC as the sole supplier of PMS to the Nigerian market."

The corporation also said it has programmed to supply 1.2 billion litres of petrol in January 2018 to contain the scarcity, adding that this would translate to about 40 million litres of PMS supply per day.

"Ordinarily, Nigeria consumes about 700 trucks (about 27 million - 30million) litres per day. Despite the current challenges, Nigerians are reassured that there is no plan to increase PMS pump price above N145/litre and that NNPC will continue to maintain ex-depot price of N133.28/litre which guarantees the pump price not exceeding the N145 per litre capped by the government," it added, while calling on stakeholders to support its efforts at clearing out the scarcity quickly.

Meanwhile, the PDP has accused the federal government of providing cover for huge sleazes directly involving the All Progressives Congress interests in the oil sector.

The party demanded that the APC-led federal Government should tell Nigerians what it knew about reports of fraud in the oil regime whereupon 18 unregistered companies were said to have been used to lift and divert $1.1 trillion worth of crude oil in the last one year.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said it was completely reprehensible that the APC and the federal government had continued to stick to lies, particularly on the real reasons behind the biting fuel scarcity as well as the National Economic Council approval for the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fund the fight against Boko Haram.

It said the ruling party and its administration owed Nigerians a duty to explain what it knew about the allegation that 18 unregistered companies were used to lift and divert $1.1 trillion worth of crude oil in the last one year.

"This APC Government is not only grossly incompetent and corrupt, but also a champion in the use of lies and manipulations against innocent and unsuspecting citizens," it said.

On the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country, the PDP lambasted the federal government for its inability to revamp the nation's refineries and to stop further fuel import as it promised during the 2015 general elections campaign.

It said: "We all know that it was convenient for the APC presidency to promise Nigerians that it will no longer import fuel only because the PDP government had already laid the foundation, including revamping the refineries and ensuring a domestic production of 5 million litres out of the 25 million litres daily domestic consumption.

"Sadly this incompetent APC government, in its almost three years, has not added one litre to the 5 million litres, which the PDP administration was producing.

"Instead of improvements, the APC has wrecked the system and now pushing the nation to depend solely on importation, while engaging in heavy sleazes in hidden subsidy regimes.

"Is it not also ridiculous for the Federal Government, in its bid to cover for its ineptitude and oil subsidy corruption, to announce that it is the NNPC and not Nigeria that is paying for the so called fuel subsidy?

"The question is; who owns the NNPC? Is it not Nigeria? Can NNPC spend a kobo without the authorization of the Presidency? Has President Muhammadu Buhari ceased to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Minister of Petroleum Resources?

"Moreover, if the NNPC, which is under his purview, has been paying fuel subsidy, who authorized the payment and who are the beneficiaries? Nigerians need to know the truth on this subsidy regime.

"We therefore challenge the APC- Federal Government to come clean on these issues and stop telling lies to Nigerians who have suffered enough under its deceptive, inept, uncoordinated and wicked regime."

The opposition party however "urged Nigerians not to be forlorn adding that it has repositioned to stand with the people in the inevitable mission to rescue and restore the nation to the path of prosperity once more come 2019".

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