Lagos — Despite public uproar that greeted the importation of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit, PMS or petrol into the country earlier in the year, the House of Representatives on Wednesday, failed on hold responsible an arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited; Duke Oil, Oando, MRS, and Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, identified as responsible for importation of the product into the country.
The Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) which investigated the importation of the off-spec product, had yesterday; instead of holding the importers responsible as directed, merely recommended measures to guard against future repetition of such occurrence.
The excess methanol petrol which led to disruption of the supply chain had plunged the country into months of scarcity and escalation in prices of goods and services.
Following public outcries, the House Majority Whip, Mohammed Monguno, had moved a motion for urgent public importance, titled “Need to Investigate the Release and Sale of Adulterated Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Petrol Stations Across Nigeria.”
Adopting the motion, the parliament had mandated the Committee to “investigate the release of adulterated PMS across the country, with a view to ensuring that culprits are brought to book, as well as make recommendations towards curbing a reoccurrence of such incident”.
However, the Committee’s report submitted to the Chamber yesterday, merely captured remedies to such occurrence, while leaving out sanctions to Duke Oil and others.
The committee recommended, “That the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, should initiate the adoption of 2017 PMS Standard (NIS 116:2017) as approved by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria for future importation of the product into the country.
“That the Minister of Petroleum Resources should expedite action for completion of the rehabilitation work of the three major refineries at Warri, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna to boost local refining and reduce over-dependence on imported PMS into Nigeria.
“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority shall procure tracking devices to monitor the movement of trucks from all deports to their destinations across the country. This will mitigate smuggling and will make the product available for domestic use.”
The committee also recommended that the Federal Government should position the SON to implement its mandate to the latter by subjecting all imported white petroleum and other products to the offshore conformity assessment.
The SON is also to resume routine quality control for PMS and other products imported into the country at the various seaports, airports and land borders throughout Nigeria as enshrined in the SON enabling Act of 2015, saying, “This will finally address the reoccurrence of the importation of off-specification PMS and other substandard goods into Nigeria.”
The committee further recommended, “That the Federal Government is to note that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria mandate is also specifically enshrined under item 62 (d) Part I of the Second Schedule (Exclusive List) to the 1999 Constitution.
“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority shall double PMS National Reserve to at least 90 days and build depots across the six geopolitical zones to make products available for domestic use and avoid future PMS shortage/scarcity across the country.
“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd shall maintain local supply and distribution of 90 million liters daily across the country until normalcy is restored.”
Alex Egbonna, who presented the report on behalf of the Committee Chairman, Abdullahi Gaya, said the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, and the importers were invited and questioned by the panel.
He said, “We discovered that the crisis was actually not because of the suppliers or the companies but some major problems. We are here to present the report to the House.”
The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, however, criticised the report as failing to address the main issues for which the House resolved to carry out the probe.
Okechukwu said, “My worry about Recommendation 1 is that the findings of the committee should speak to the recommendations. (The report) speaks about three refineries and the people who imported petroleum products.
“When you see what is being recommended, I know that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria is responsible, across the board, for the quality and standard of products. But we should also know that the DPR and certain protocols are in the refineries with regard to testing of the quality of products, whether they meet specifications. Whether SON is responsible for this is another matter.
“I have not seen in the entire report and recommendations what should happen to the companies that imported the fake products, because what we are talking about is adulterated products. And the refineries, the one (in Port Harcourt) that we have allocated $1.5bn, which has been awarded, there should be a status report on it.
“I think they should tell us the entire gamut of their investigation; what they actually did; because we want to solve the problem, we are not looking just to cross over. The reason and term of the motion are the adulterated products. The recommendations do not speak to that.”
Similarly, Ajibola Muraina said, “I am surprised that the terms of reference which this honourable House gave to them were very specific. Looking at the recommendations, one will see that the terms of reference have largely not been addressed at all. And these are specific terms that ought to be addressed specifically so that we can move to the future with the hope that we will not have a recurrence of this problem again.”
In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the Committee, asked the Parliament to consider the report, and asked the committee to go back and comply with its terms of reference.
“I think the two submissions are very apt. They captured most of the views on what should be done. It is just to ask them to go back and do the work,” Wase said.
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