Says current situation wearing down NNPC’s capacity
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Saturday disclosed that he had initiated consultations with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to help major oil marketers in Nigeria access foreign exchange to import petrol.
Disclosing this during a monitoring tour of petrol stations within Abuja metropolis, the minister said the move would help ease the burden of access to forex which reportedly hampers the ability of marketers to bring petrol into the country.
His tour was sequel to the resurgence of fuel queues at filling stations due to scarcity of petrol in all parts of the country.
The minister said already, the situation was beginning to wear down the capacity of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to meet the country’s fuel consumption which is officially put at 40 million litres per day.
Noting that NNPC is currently the sole importer and supplier of petrol in the country, he expressed hopes that the lingering fuel scarcity and queues at filling stations would ease off within two days as the corporation had massively increased the trucking of petrol to depots and filling stations in the country.
In December 2015 when the country experienced a bout of petrol scarcity, oil marketers had alleged that federal government’s policy on forex restriction was responsible for their inability to import petrol, hence the scarcity.
But Kachikwu said yesterday that, “God willing, we will see this through and under one or two days, we should be clear and we are looking at long term.
“We are working very collaboratively with the Central Bank now to try and look at long term solutions to the majors so that they themselves can begin to go back and bring in their own products, and so apologies again to Nigerians, nobody wants to see this.”
Commenting further on the lingering scarcity, Kachikwu said: “we have enough coming in. Obviously the three days of strike hit us very badly but we are flogging again an average of over 300 trucks into Abuja. It is going to take a bit of a while for the queues to clear off and we are hoping that between tomorrow and the next one, two days, the queues will all disappear.”
“We are continuing to pump in, a lot of our stations are open 24 hours a day. Long term obviously, we have got to systemically look at how you prepare this nation in circumstances where there are emergencies and you are able to respond.”
He said he would initiate a long-term solution to curb the menace of products scarcity in the country, but did not give details of the planned solution.
Pleading with Nigerians to bear with the government, Kachikwu said, “We are obviously not getting it as well as we should. Again, I apologise to Nigerians for all the pains, nobody wants to see people spend up to two hours on fuel queues.
“The president is very bothered about this, and if there is anything that bothers him, it is the sight of people waiting for fuel but we are doing everything we can, the NNPC is taking the whole nation on its shoulders.”
“Whilst majors are really not bringing in products, we are working on long-term solutions so they now begin to go back to importation lanes and be able to service their own outlets rather than us servicing them and servicing everybody because it is a lot of wear and tear on our capability status.”