Nigeria’s House of Representatives has charged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited to urgently end the lingering artificial scarcity of premium motor spirit (PMS) within the next seven days to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
The lawmakers tasked the management of the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NMDPRC) to collaborate with the Nigerian Police Force and Department of Security Service (DSS) to ensure that fuel is sold at regulated price in all retail outlets.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on ‘Urgent need for the Government to end the current fuel scarcity, sponsored by Saidu Abdullahi
In his lead debate, Abdullahi observed that in the last few months, Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardships caused by the lingering petrol scarcity; affecting economic activities and making the already trying times in the country more difficult.
While calling for the House intervention, Abdullahi expressed grave concern over the excuses advanced by Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to “justify the fuel scarcity.
“Firstly, when the scarcity reared its ugly head at the peak of the rainy season in October this year, NMDPRA said “the fuel scarcity in Abuja and other northern states was caused by rainfall which submerged the greater part of Lokoja including the highway leading to Abuja, a development that grounded all vehicular movements along that route.
“The House is aware that soon after floods/rains receded in Lokoja and the petrol scarcity continued, the President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), said the situation has continued to persist because of the supply gap created by the blockade in Lokoja.
“The IPMAN affirmed that there was enough product in the depots and that the lingering scarcity was only caused by the break in supply of the product.
“The House is further aware that when the scarcity continued, and all the excuses advanced by the stakeholders were watered down, the National Operations Controller of IPMAN advanced another reason and argued that the scarcity is because of an unsteady supply of the products.
“The House is concerned that: Intelligence reports on current fuel scarcity gathered by our securities agencies indicated that there is a deliberate plan by some oil marketers to derail the effort of the government in the distribution of fuel in the country by hoarding the petroleum products and thereby creating artificial scarcity all over the country.
“The House is further concerned that: while the fuel scarcity is heating petroleum stations of some major marketers that are currently selling fuel at government-regulated prices, some independent marketers who operate in the Market have enough petroleum products selling at unregulated prices.
“The House is worried that most of those fueling stations have resulted in selling fuel at over N300 per litre. It is observed with dismay that those who are gaining from this artificial fuel scarcity appear to be smiling home as a result of this ugly development and this has the potency to provoke innocent Nigerians against the Government.
“The House is further worried that generally, there is a hue and cry over this ugly development and unfortunately, those that are charged with the responsibility of taking control of this situation are not doing enough to combat the ugly development.
“This appears to be a dangerous signal that the Government must tackle without further delay to restore normalcy.
“The House is disturbed that: lingering fuel scarcity has compounded the woes of millions of Nigerians struggling to survive as prices of items continue to make a rapid surge. It has added a high cost of living to Nigerians which surged to a 17-year high of 21.09 per cent in October this year.
“The House is further disturbed that the inability of the regulators of the petroleum sector to end this artificial scarcity of petroleum products forced the Department of State Security Services to issue an ultimatum to the NNPC, and oil marketers to end the artificial scarcity within 48 hours”, he noted.
To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.