…Insists products scarcity to end in Abuja, Lagos by Thursday
06 April 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on Tuesday lamented that the perennial fuel scarcity witnessed across the country has become a personal nightmare for him.
Kachikwu remarked, however, that there was light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, stressing that the fuel crisis which had lasted a while in the country would be over from Thursday in the major cities of Abuja and Lagos.
Kachikwu, who was speaking during a town hall meeting he had with workers of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), in Abuja, noted that while he expects an end to scarcity in both cities from today, other cities in the country like Port Harcourt, Warri, Sokoto and Kano would, however, begin to experience such improvement by the weekend.
He said, “Today we have the whole fuel queues, and it is a complete nightmare for me. It has been a lot of work but the reality is that I hurt more like every Nigerian who is at the filling station, I am very emotional about my job and the things that I do.
“There isn’t sufficient reason Nigerians should suffer this much, we just need to take the right policies as difficult as it comes, we need to take the right policies to ensure that we do not have this recurrence of fuel scarcity, it’s been with us historically, but I don’t want that to define my legacy in the petroleum industry.”
He added that “Hopefully by tomorrow through Thursday the fuel queues in Abuja should be over. Hopefully, the same thing will happen to Lagos and after that, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Port Harcourt and Warri get off this state.”
The Minister noted that in the long term, the government’s choice to privatise the country’s downstream petroleum sector would be the surest solution to the challenges of products scarcity.
According to him, the country would have to find a sustainable way to keep her downstream sector working efficiently to avoid recurrent scarcity of products.
He added that such option that privatising the sector provides would be productive without necessarily having prices of products go up.
“What concerns me more is not just getting the present queues out, that will wear out, what concerns me more is how do you avoid having to have that ever again in this country and to do that there are certain things we need to do.
“First is that strategic reserve has not been in this country for over 20 years, we need to bring back strategic reserve that should serve 60 to a 90-day type of product hold so that we can respond within a matter of hours when there is a shortage in any part of the country.
“Secondly, we need to find how to handle allocation of resources, for the first time I have been able to convince the major oil producers to allocate scarce foreign exchange to the downstream players to enable them to bring in products.
“But that is not a futuristic long term solution. So, we need to find a way of being able to fund this sector to do its work, and there is no better way than to steer it to that path of privatisation, let them do their things, we are going to have to look at that and it is not necessarily synonymous with an increase in price.
“Hopefully, the price modulation that we have put in place will enable us to do that,” the minister explained.
The NNPC boss added that “but really, in the states, we do not have queues as such, people are paying double the price to get product, and there is no place for that practice, not right but what it says to you is that obviously, there are some statistical philosophy we need to watch in terms of whether we are pricing our products rightly for people to be able to participate in this chain.”
Speaking on plans to reposition the PPPRA, Kachikwu said, “we need to enhance PPPRA, and we need to ensure that as you advance your careers, they are in the right direction, and one of those things we are going to do is to ensure that promotions that are long outstanding are all done, and we are going to be looking at that within the next two weeks.”