By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Chineme Okafor
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has accused the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of playing to the gallery and ignoring the plight of Nigerians who are reeling under the throes of biting fuel scarcity nationwide.
ANPP’s charge came just as the General Manager, Community Relations of the NNPC exonerated the corporation describing the allegation as unfair and politically-motivated.
In a statement issued yesterday by the party National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu, the ANPP said there are very long queues at filling stations in various parts of the country with many of them selling fuel far above the approved pump price.
He wondered why the NNPC and its subsidiaries were not able to ensure steady supply of petroleum products as well as sanity in its distribution.
“The Nigerian people, who should be enjoying the benevolent gesture of the Almighty in situating such bountiful natural resources under our very feet, are today confronted by the unnecessary hardship brought about by sheer incompetence and corruption entrenched in the very organ of government whose task is to manage such blessing,” Eneukwu said.
In the statement, ANPP said its attention has been drawn to a media report last Thursday, where the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, was quoted as saying that local crude oil production has reached an all-time high of 2.7 million barrels per day (mbpd).
According to the party’s spokesman, Yakubu boasted that NNPC has been able to maintain crude oil production above the budgeted production level of 2.48mbpd, and also competently supplies petroleum products to the whole nation.
However, Eneukwu described NNPC’s posture as insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians who expected the corporation to explain to them what is being done to arrest the ongoing fuel supply crisis.
Reacting to the issues raised by the ANPP on crude oil production, NNPC’s General Manager in charge of Community Relations, Dr. Farouk Omar, said the country’s crude oil production figures is not determined by the corporation but by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) where clarifications can obtained.
He said anyone doubting the crude production claim can approach the agency to verify the figures.
“We can only ask them to go to the DPR to confirm these figures and not get us involved in their argument, “ he said.
On the current scarcity of petroleum products, Umar said NNPC has consistently kept faith with supplies until recently when its pipeline at Arepo System 2 B in Ogun State was vandalised and two engineers killed.
“Nigerians are aware that for over a year before August, we had kept product supplies consistent without any scarcity until the challenges at Arepo system 2B where our pipeline was vandalised and our engineers killed few days after we sent a dispatch team to effect repairs on the damaged point.
He said NNPC is committed to its responsibilities and should be allowed to do same without been drawn into politics.
“To accuse us of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians is unfair and political; we beg to be excluded from such politics as we do not want to be dragged into the political game.
“We have stated our commitment to ensuring that products are available but we won’t put the lives of our engineers at risk when we don’t have security guarantee from the security agencies to move in and effect repairs in Arepo.
“They should rather ask that Nigerians living around our network of pipelines should protect these assets, Nigerians should take responsibility of protecting the pipelines as national assets and I think that should be their preoccupation rather than the blame game, “ he said.