09 April 2016, Lagos – Thousands of motorists and petrol seekers in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa, Kaduna and Lagos among others besieged filling stations on Friday in a bid to purchase premium motor spirit following the promise of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that the queues for the product would disappear by the preceding day, being Thursday.
The queues, however, never disappeared but grew longer on Friday, a development that led to the deployment of staff from the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to assist attendants at various outlets.
Some of the NNPC workers were sighted at the gates of a few filling stations in Abuja on Friday, controlling the entry and exit of motorists at the outlets.
Our correspondent saw some of the NNPC employees at the Total and Conoil filling stations located opposite the four towers of the corporation in Abuja on Friday. But their presence did not reduce the queues in front of the filling stations as hundreds of desperate motorists struggled to make way into the outlets in order to buy the product.
One of our correspondents, who monitored the fuel situation in Lagos, found out that rather than reduce, queues grew longer in many parts of the state.
In Ikeja, the Mobil filling stations at Oba Ogunji Road and Oba Akran Avenue had long queues of motorists, who had thronged the stations to purchase petrol.
Some of the stations, where queues remained lengthy in Ikeja as of Friday include NNPC station, Omole; Oando station along Oba Ogunnusi Road; MRS station at Ikeja, Ascon station, Akilo, and Conoil station at GRA.
The situation was the same in other parts of Lagos and some motorists stated that the announcement by the petroleum minister made many fuel seekers to come out to petrol stations.
“I read it in the newspapers that the queues will reduce in Abuja by Thursday and that is why I came out to buy fuel today. But what I’m seeing is even worse than what we saw earlier in the week,” James Atonko, a motorist at the Conoil filling station, said.
Kachikwu had on Tuesday announced that petrol queues would subside in Abuja and Lagos by Wednesday/Thursday, adding that the scarcity would reduce in other parts of the country by the weekend.
The minister had said, “Hopefully by tomorrow (Wednesday)/Thursday the fuel queues in Abuja should be over. Hopefully the same thing will happen to Lagos, and a day after, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Port Harcourt and Warri getting enough products.”
But marketers had told our correspondent that the petrol scarcity would persist beyond this week in many parts of Nigeria due to issues of logistics, limited volumes of PMS imported through vessels and clearance procedures for the product as undertaken by agencies in the downstream oil sector.
An official with Nipco Plc, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said, “The queues in Nigeria can’t clear this week. Even if we have 100 vessels lined up, there are other logistic issues that follow and must be sorted out, and there are some agencies that come on board to do these things.”
Also, a former Treasurer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Western Zone, Mr. Shina Amoo, said the lingering fuel scarcity might not ease until the end of May.
Amoo said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Osogbo on Thursday.
The former IPMAN chief said oil marketers could not buy above the recommended price and sell below the price, saying the crisis would begin to ease only when the supply of the product improved.
He said, “The April date given by the minister (Ibe Kachikwu) is not feasible. The man first said the scarcity would end by May and he came under heavy attacks so he apologised and gave another date. I don’t think the scarcity will end earlier than the end of May.
“The last time I bought fuel, I paid N182 per litre and how much do you expect me to sell that? It has to be higher and that is why filling stations now sell as high as N200 a litre.”
He stressed that the period when marketers sold below the price they bought the product was over, saying no marketer would do that now, no matter the threat.
According to him, the situation can improve if the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation does 100 per cent fuel importation or allow marketers with good records to also import the product but with strict monitoring.