30 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, yesterday ruled out the possibility of resigning from office following public outcry over the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.
Kachukwu stated that as both minister and Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, he still had a lot of work to do to sanitise the oil and gas sector of the economy.
The minister, who made the disclosure when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to explain measures by his ministry to address the current fuel scarcity, called on those wishing to come to Abuja to protest his stay in office to spare themselves such troubles as it would be counterproductive.
He said, “All those planning to come to Abuja for a protest should save their fuel. I am not going to resign. I have a lot of work to do.”
Kachikwu regretted that Nigeria remains one of the biggest oil producing countries in the world that still suffers fuel scarcity.
The minister also used the occasion to apologise to Nigerians over his comments that the scarcity had defied solutions and that he could not perform magic to redress the issue.
He said he made the comment as a joke and never intended that it would hurt the sensitivity of Nigerians. “I do apologise for the comment that I made jocularly with my friends in the press about not being a magician and it offended Nigerians; it was not meant to be, it was a side, jocular issue.
“I did go on to explain what needed to be done, I did not know that it would create the kind of hyperbole (exaggeration) that it did.
“Let me first admit that I am not a typically experienced politician, I am a technocrat: I come to work and some of the phraseologies that I may use while being acceptable in the arena in which I play obviously will not be acceptable in the public political arena. So if anybody’s sensibilities were offended by those, I totally apologise.”
He added, “I share the pains of Nigerians, I feel that pain every day when I walk the streets: on Easter day I was in Lagos monitoring fuel distribution and the depots: I have given 24 hours attention to the problems.
“I have continued to work with one sole purpose which is that every problem must have a solution and I think that is the reason I was picked.”
The minister assured that by the time measures put in place by his ministry began to yield results, the scarcity would be over in about a fortnight.
He blamed the current scarcity on product diversion and pipeline vandalism. To address the issue of diversion, Kachikwu disclosed that his ministry was working towards computerising the distribution system by installing trackers on trucks to monitor their movement.
He also said NNPC was collaborating with Civil Defence Corps to provide security and monitor the movement of fuel trucks across the country. He regretted that out of about 200 trucks that leave Lagos to supply petroleum products to Abuja, about one-third get diverted and find their ways to the black markets.
The minister also said attacks on pipelines had become so sophisticated that members of the civil defence could no longer match the vandals. He disclosed that NNPC was currently engaging the unconventional security services to join forces with the military to police the pipelines.
He regretted that Nigeria remained one of the few unfortunate countries in the world where its citizens engage in the destruction of its own infrastructures.
The minister noted that the long-term solution to the recurring incidence of fuel scarcity remained the fixing of the refineries to compliment imports as well as liberalising the sector such that government took the back seat while the private sector drove the business