The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, yesterday in Abuja said the worst times of the fuel crisis, which has plagued the nation in the last two weeks was over, saying the monster of fuel scarcity has been tamed eventually.
Baru, who made this submission while answering questions from journalists in the Presidential Villa after yesterday’s Juma’at prayers, blamed the independent marketers for the needless fuel crisis which he said was triggered by a rumour that the pump price of petrol would be increased.
However, he said he was excited because normalcy was gradually returning to various parts of the country after fierce and running battles that NNPC and its subsidiaries had with oil marketers, pointing out that his earlier disclosure that there was enough fuel in the storage which can last for more than 30 days was correct after all.
According to him, the marketers, who were only bent on making life difficult for Nigerians during the Christmas, opted to hoard the product and divert it even outside the country.
He said the directive of the president to seal off petrol stations selling above the pump rice of N145 per litre and their hoarded petrol given out to motorists at no cost was effectively implemented.
“Fortunately, that rumour instigated a lot of marketers to be very greedy and they decided that their fellow citizens should not enjoy the Christmas holiday and new year with ease and decided to profiteer starting by hoarding and diversion of products.
“At the beginning, I did address the press, telling the world that we have sufficient products that will last us 30 days through the new year into January but because the marketers wanted to inflict harm and pains on fellow citizens, they decided to hoard products, divert them and in some cases even smuggle products out of the country.
“This has been tamed by the actions we took and I personally led the war around Abuja and other teams led the war in Lagos and other parts of the country. As of this morning (yesterday), I have gone round the Abuja metropolis and I have seen that the queues have reduced significantly to almost normal level and few motorists that I heard speaking on morning programmes concerning what I have seen, said they have not spent up to 30 minutes to fuel their car.
“So the monster has been tamed in Lagos, the situation has been brought into normalcy as far as two days ago and we are also aching the same thing in all other cities. I promise that we have sufficient products that will last us for the next 30 days and we will keep bringing in 50 per cent over and above our normal consumption into the country. And vessels have been lined up, at the moment I have eight vessels discharging products at various ports around the country.
“So, Nigerians should enjoy the new year and that Mr. President’s directive and guidance which has been very helpful has been executed and normalcy has returned.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered to seal off fuel stations found to be hoarding petroleum products and dispense the petroleum free to the public,” he said.
Baru who said even though the landing cost of petrol is N171.40 per litre, the NNPC sells to marketers in the depot at N133.28 following Buhari’s directive that the pump price of N145 per litre must be sustained.
He insisted that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had been mandated to continue to seal off any petrol station selling above the approved pump price of N145 per litre.
Baru advised marketers who had so far hoarded or diverted fuel to bring it out and sell in their own interest adding that legal action would be taken against those behind the fuel crisis.
“Those marketers that have hidden products in odd locations, you better bring them out and sell to the public at N145 per litre maximum. If NNPC sold it to you at N133.28, you have sufficient margin within that ambit to be able to supply and sell to the public at maximum N145 per litre.
“The NNPC mega stations are selling at N143 per litre. So, you should be able to sell at N145 per litre. If you go above that, the regulator, DPR and PPPRA, with the support of law enforcement agencies particularly the civil defence, will make sure that the products are confiscated and given free to the public. This is the directive that we are working on from Mr. President and it is being executed to the letter.
“Bring them out and sell these products. We don’t have any shortage and we are making massive loadings. Normally, we should be able to have 850 trucks to satisfy the national consumption but as at yesterday (Thursday), we loaded 1,750 trucks to go around the country. So, we will continue massive load out until we reach the former position whereby all the stations will have products and truck siding,” he said.
“We have met with the law enforcement agencies particularly with civil defence who have helped us to mop up those people selling in Jerry cans and have also helped us to mop out some of the cars that have extra tanks at least within Abuja and environs and around the country. The legal action is to apprehend the culprits first and then take them to the courts within the time limit that is speculated,” Baru submitted.
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