28 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Nigeria’s oil industry watchdog, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has decried the flagrant abuse by oil marketing companies of statutory laws regulating downstream operations in the country and vowed to clamp down on erring marketers.
According to Lagos Zonal Controller of the Department, Olugbenga Koku, the DPR would continue to demand and identify with good business practices among the operators.
He said the rate of non-compliance among the operators was increasingly becoming worrisome but stated that the agency would not give up in the effort to enforce all the relevant regulations.
Blaming the low rate of compliance on the non-observance of the rule of law in all areas of the economy, he assured that DPR was addressing the situation as it affected the oil and gas industry.
But he hinted of challenges in the enforcement of regulations, saying: “If you shut down 50 filling stations in Lagos for non-compliance, you will hear some stories – people will start to wonder if there is scarcity. There will be panic buying and there will be trouble.”
Koku said DPR would not allow the bad system to win in the fight against unethical practices in the sector and stressed that the onus was on the agency not to give up.
“Any country, including Nigeria that believes that one man is above the law, that means about 10 million people are above the law, because the man has a lot of friends, both imagined and real. His drivers, children, relations and their friends and hangers on will all be above the law because there is nobody, who does not know somebody.
“Until we come to realise that we must uphold the rule of law and everybody must be committed to it, from the top to the bottom, we will keep coming back. But we are not giving up, otherwise the system will win. The onus is on us not to give up. Hopefully, someone will listen; people are already listening but the pace is too slow.”
Earlier in a speech at this year’s Annual General Meeting of DPR and the marketers, Koku said the involvement of the agency in the distribution of petroleum products had contributed in reducing the scarcity of the products.