By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The South-east chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being a major culprit behind the lingering fuel crisis in the country, pledging however that the President Muhammadu Buhari government was committed to addressing the problem.
The party also asked Nigerians to be patient with the federal government, noting that had the PDP fixed the nation’s refineries or built new ones, the country would not have faced the present fuel shortage.
Addressing an interactive town hall meeting with members of the APC at Egede, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State yesterday, the spokesman of the South-east caucus of the party, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said Nigerians are paying for the sins committed by PDP-led federal government which in the last 16 years failed to either fix the existing refineries or build new ones.
“We are paying unfortunately for the sins of PDP. I remember vividly in 2010, when the then Finance Minister and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced to the whole world, the award of $23 billion Greenfield Refineries, to a Chinese company. The refineries were to be located in Bayelsa, Lagos and Kogi States. There was jubilation nationwide. If they had completed the refineries, today, we won’t be talking of scarcity or astronomical increase in fuel pump price. They squandered the money and put Nigerians in the harm’s way,” he said.
Okechukwu assuring Nigerians that APC would fix the rot in the petroleum sector, made it clear that one year was not enough to fix a refinery or build a new one.
He however observed that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has assured Nigerians that the government would fix the existing refineries and enter into partnership with private sector to erect new refineries.
Meanwhile, Okechukwu said the government has already added value of transparency, frugality and expertise in the petroleum products importation and fuel supply chain.
“We can’t stop pointing out the unconscionable wreckage the PDP unleashed on our economy in the last 16 years. The wreckage keeps on popping up at each junction, despite the efforts being made to suppress it.
“For instance, how can one fail to point out why Enugu Coal remained moribund when the fact on the ground shows that in 2012 – N923 million; 2013 -N1.7billion and 2014 – N1.1 billion were budgeted for 3D Seismic study survey for Enugu and Gombe Coal and were ignobly squandered?”
“How can we stop reminding ourselves of the sordid past, more so, the crude oil price, which used to cushion and cover the PDP gross corruption track has since the inception of Buhari’s regime nosedived? A barrel of crude oil hovered between $90 and $100 in most of the period under review; now it hovers between $30 and $40. PDP sins bleed in every facet of our lives -dilapidated roads, poor power supply, collapsed social infrastructure and state of uncertainty.
“Our elders admonished us that before we find solutions to the rain beating us, we must first remember where, when and how the rain started. For us, yesterday is not gone. President Buhari’s score card is that he has triumphed in taming corruption and containing insecurity. Revamping the economy is next in line with the 2016 budget,” Okechukwu said.
He therefore called on Nigerians not to shy away as usual, as President Buhari cannot spend any money not budgeted for as prescribed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He noted that the president has raked in N3 trillion via the Treasury Single Account (TSA), and therefore enjoined Nigerians to monitor how the ministers, heads of departments and agencies execute it.