Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Wild jubilation erupted in Ibadan, the Oyo State capitalÂ wednesday as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) commenced reloading of petrol, kerosene and other products at the nationâ€™s largest and most strategic depot in Nigeria, Apata Depot.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, alongside the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, leaders of the NNPC stakeholders which included the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), IMB, Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum Gas Workers (NUPENG) and several hundreds of depot workers witnessed the epoch making event.
Apata Ibadan Depot was shut down two years ago when the activities of pipeline vandals reached their peak at Arepo and disrupted petroleum supply to the area.
At the ceremony yesterday, Baru charged the government of Oyo and other neighbouring states to help in securing the pipeline network of the corporation abd other strategic national assets against vandalism.
Baru said: â€œNigeriaâ€™s energy supply security is underpinned by a robust pipeline network of over 8,000 kilometres used for transportation of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas. Of this vast access, NNPC has the largest downstream footprint with over 5,130 kilometres of pipeline network and 21 depots speak around the country.
â€œThis critical national asset has become a subject of incessant vandalism, theft and sabotage. The consequence of this act of sabotage has often resulted in damage and shutdown of critical facilities, environmental impacts, injuries and awful loss of lives and property, thus causing the NNPC and by extension the federation huge maintenance cost.
â€œNon-availability of critical pipeline infrastructure has resulted in long haulage of petroleum products across the country with attendant risk of accidents and damage to our road infrastructure.â€
He therefore appealed to Ajimobi and good people of Oyo State â€œto assist in securing this national asset, not just to save the national treasury a huge amount of money, it also to save the lives if our citizens and their property. It is one of the key mandates of the present administration to revamp this abandoned asset.â€
Speaking at the occasion, Ajimobi, who had earlier received Baru in his office, commended him for his vision and doggedness at bringing back commercial activities in the state.
Ajimobi also noted that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has brought progressive change to Nigeria, a clear development of the former trend.
He, however, promised to donate security vehicles to assist in protection of pipelines.