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Editorial

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Again, scarcity of premium motor spirit, otherwise called petrol, has resurfaced across the country. The situation, which has become an annual ritual at Christmas period, has raised speculations that it may have been pre-meditated. Of great concern is that the scarcity, in most cases, causes cost of transportation of persons and goods to rise beyond what the ordinary Nigerian could afford.

Again, scarcity of premium motor spirit, otherwise called petrol, has resurfaced across the country. The situation, which has become an annual ritual at Christmas period, has raised speculations that it may have been pre-meditated. Of great concern is that the scarcity, in most cases, causes cost of transportation of persons and goods to rise beyond what the ordinary Nigerian could afford.

The development has made black market syndicates to thrive, as motorists spend endless hours at filling stations in search of the commodity, which sometimes sell for as high as N250.00 per litre. It is baffling that the availability of fuel round the year cannot still be guaranteed in a country that is the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world.
Whether at Christmas or other periods of the year, there is no justification for the scarcity, beyond exposing the leaders as incapable of addressing the real challenges facing the sector. It is insensitive that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, have continued to shift the blame over the exact cause of the shortage. While the Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Olufemi Adewole, accused the NNPC of assuming the position of sole importer of petroleum products; the corporation had accused the association of insincerity. According to Adewole, DAPPMA members own over 80 per cent of functional storage facilities and retail outlets, which the NNPC often relegate in preference for Direct Sales-Direct Purchase, DSDP arrangement. We urge an immediate review of the system whereby the NNPC depends on its contractors under the DSDP arrangement, which the marketers claim had never worked due to the accompanying price disparity. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to order an immediate review of the system so that the importation and distribution of the products could be perfected.
NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, explained in a statement that the oil corporation “has supplied appreciable volume to DAPPMA, MOMAN) and IPMAN to rid the challenges currently being experienced in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.”But it is doubtful if this is so, as accusations and counter accusations have often been the case each time there is scarcity. Though President Buhari has expressed regret over the problem, the inability of his government to proffer a permanent solution is an admission of failure. That fuel crisis has persisted even with Buhari as the Petroleum Minister is a pointer that he is not competent to run the ministry. This is expressly so since he promised during his electioneering that he would end the problem. Strangely, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had also shifted the burden to the NNPC, which is an indictment on the government. Nigeria Moment strongly believes that these challenges could be solved only when the country's moribund refineries are auctioned to the private sector. Government must stop the rhetoric of deceiving Nigerians that the original builders of the existing refineries in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri would soon revamp them. Nigerians have been told this lie from the 90s till date.
We urge the government to come out clean on the issues of subsidy and deregulation, over which it has had running battles with the marketers, three years after the All Progressives Congress, APC was elected. Government should communicate its agenda to avoid growing speculations that the current scarcity was mooted to cause another increase in the fuel pump price. Perhaps, this is the time too, for the president to excuse himself as the petroleum minister and appoint a more competent person. We commend the private sector initiatives, which have initiated measures to build new refineries. If the proposal by Alhaji Aliko Dangote to complete the construction of a refinery with the capacity to produce 650, 000 barrels per day at the end of 2018 is achieved, alongside others, petroleum products would not only be available for the local market, but also for export. One way the NNPC could prove that it clearly understands the dynamics of demand and supply, is to be able to predict the country's need and match it with adequate allocation. To continue to be inconsistent in the statistics is an indication of a disconnect between the NNPC, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.

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