By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The current scarcity of petrol and its attendant queues at petrol service stations across Nigeria has lingered for this long because the federal government has been unable to address the logistics and policy issues that could end the scarcity, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja to intimate journalists on the ministryâ€™s plan to host a new oil and gas conference and exhibition — the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) — next week in Abuja, Kachikwu explained that the country would have to address certain fundamental policy issues especially with regards to the price of petrol to make the scarcity go away.
He however reiterated that the government was not ready to effect any pump price increment, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari was sympathetic to the sufferings of Nigerians in this regard and thus committed to keeping the price at N145 per litre.
Also with regards to the countryâ€™s hosting of the maiden edition of the NIPS at a time its downstream petroleum sector is greatly challenged with petrol scarcity and the kind of message this could send to the global audience that would be attending the conference, the minister said he would direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure the queues in Abuja are cleared before the conference starts.
â€œI can tell you behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place because the fuel queue issue is both logistics and policy issues. We will need to address fundamental policy issues to enable it go away especially in the area where the pricing is showing differentials between the landing and sales price. What we need to do to continue to sell at N145,â€ said Kachikwu.