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Current Fuel Scarcity: Issues The Public Should Know About, By Wole Arisekola


One of the strongest scorecards of the present administration is the ability of the Federal Government to address the issue of fuel scarcity, which had been a recurrent situation of past administrations.
In the past, not only were there many instances of fuel scarcity and its ripple effect of long queues, it was a situation that went on for sometimes weeks and even months. Motorists would remember how much time was wasted queuing up for fuel.
This present administration swung into action and the bitter memories of long queues at petrol stations became a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, as Nigeria moves towards the 2015 general elections, this ugly situation is rearing its head, this time, at an alarming rate.
It is instructive to let the public know the truth with a view to getting the necessary solution to the problem and addressing it as soon as possible so that the scarcity will not jeopardize the coming elections.
The PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency) predicted the national consumption freedom rightly or wrongly at 40 million (forty million) liters per day -rightly or wrongly in the sense that the basis of arriving at that figure is unfounded.
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What cannot be challenged however is the fact that this administration has been able to ensure regular supply all over the country.
It will be recalled that of the 40 million liters per day predicted to be the national fuel consumption, NNPC has the mandate to supply 50% while the remaining 50% should be supplied by other marketers.
Members of the public should be aware that with valid figures existing at the moment, NNPC has not failed at any time to supply its required 50% mandate to the public.
While other factors may not be ruled out, some facts are clear.
1. The current situation of fuel scarcity is completely outside the purview of the Petroleum Minister who ironically has jurisdiction over petroleum matters.
2. Petroleum marketers claim that they have holes in their pockets in terms of huge indebtedness to their banks over non-servicing of facilities from past transactions (subsidy debts) which are awaiting government action.
3. Banks have insisted that they are not ready to open letters of credit to the marketers unless they pay back existing debts.
At this stage, it is worthy of note that the Coordinating Minister of the Economy has jurisdiction over the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the other banks and also, the administration of the National Budget, including Subsidy Budget.
The questions arising now are:
How did they arrive at the Subsidy Budget?
Is the Subsidy Budget being rightly or wrongly administered?
Why are the marketers and bankers reacting and the public suffering?
What are the implications of the delay as it leads to loses for industries, productive hours lost on long queues at filling stations by civil and public servants, businessmen and women?
The long queues are also scary as motorists block roads and force other vehicle users to face one-way traffic. We cannot imagine what would happen when there are emergencies and vehicles conveying sick people to the hospital cannot move easily.
What about the attendant risk factors of storing fuel in homes for fear of not being able to get more fuel easily?
When policy makers are making decisions, it is important for them to carry all necessary bodies along to forestall the suffering everybody is going through now.
We advise those in charge to make amends and put an end to this crisis as soon as possible.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Wole Arisekola is Chairman, Online Media Practitioners of Nigeria (AMPON)

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