Hope rises as three petrol vessels berth at Lagos port
• IPMAN blames alleged hike in lifting cost
• PDP, APC trade blame over fuel scarcity
THERE is a glimmer of hope that the scarcity of petrol may soon end as three vessels were said to have arrived the country to discharge petrol.
Reports from across the country Monday had indicated that the current scarcity of petrol was spreading fast with consumers staying longer hours at filing stations to buy the product at higher prices.
Also Monday, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) alleged that the Federal Government has increased the lifting cost of petroleum product by N6, making it difficult for non-major marketers to lift fuel from Lagos.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of masterminding the sudden fuel scarcity in some parts of the country, alleging that the opposition party had infiltrated the ranks of the fuel marketers.
In a swift reaction, APC denied the allegation and described it as admission of failure by the ruling PDP.
It was gathered that the fuel-laden vessels, which berthed in Apapa jetties in Lagos yesterday belong to the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC). One of the vessels berthed at Petroleum Wharf Apapa (PWA) and discharged products for the major marketers, including MRS, Conoil, and Forte Oil, while another one which berthed at the North Oil Jetty (NOJ) discharged fuel for NIPCO and Aiteo. The third vessel was said to have berthed at Bulk Oil Plant (BOP) and discharged the products for Total and Oando.
Although, the exact quantity of the products could not be confirmed by the PPMC as at press time, it was learnt from close sources that the total volume would approximate 60 million metric tonne (MT).
Some marketers expressed hope that supply to stations will get better from today as most of the depots in Apapa received the products in the tanks for onward distribution through tankers.
The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said in a statement in Abuja that “the fuel marketers have taken a sub-contract from the opposition to frustrate supplies of petrol to fuel stations as part of a grand plan to create tension in the polity.”
He said: “We know who the fuel marketers are. We know the relationship that exists between one of the biggest fuel marketers and a national leader of the APC. These unconscionable opposition elements infiltrated the ranks of the fuel marketers, whom they have contracted, in a calculated attempt to frustrate the good efforts of government.
“Why have they taken this time when all hands are on deck for the March 28 elections to cause this artificial fuel scarcity? The situation is so bad that they are not importing the product. They are even threatening tank farmers not to release any fuel in their depot in order to sustain the shortage. We are aware that the tank farmers have reported the threat to the police and other security agencies.
“This shows how desperate and wicked the opposition APC can be in their quest for presidential power. Must they make Nigerians suffer simply because they want to rule? They must desist from this act of sabotage.
“The opposition should not take delight in celebrating over the pains and sufferings of Nigerians as they have continued to do with the Boko Haram attacks on our people and nation. “ Fani-Kayode also condemned what he called efforts by the APC to play down the gallantry of Nigeria military in the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group.
“The APC’s penchant to diminish the gallantry of our armed forces in the battle to defeat insurgency in the northeast zone whilst mocking the government whenever the insurgents bomb and take over villages in the zone, must be condemned by well-meaning Nigerians.
“This predilection exposes and portrays the APC and its leaders as forces of retrogression with a devilish mindset to unleash the worst form of anarchy on the nation before, during and after the March 28 presidential election because they know their party and presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari will be dealt a crushing blow by President Goodluck Jonathan at the polls.”
He alerted Nigerians to alleged plan by the APC to destroy major electricity infrastructure in the country.
“The PDPPCO also wishes to use this medium to alert the nation on the lingering plot by the opposition elements who have been sponsoring their agents of destruction in the power sector to vandalise critical infrastructure in order to reduce the megawatts of electricity that is being generated and reverse the gains that government is making in the sector.”
The opposition APC, in a three-paragraph statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “It is totally unconscionable, and indeed an admission of failure, for a sitting government and ruling party to blame the opposition for their failings. These guys have simply abdicated their responsibility to the people. They can as well throw in the towel and head home.
“The questions to ask are: who runs the NNPC? Who pays subsidy to fuel marketers? Who has used federal resources to bribe individuals and groups to such a level that there is no money to run the government, not to talk of paying subsidies?
“The moment a ruling party starts transferring its responsibilities to the opposition, it is clear that the market is over.”
IPMAN blamed the NNPC for the sudden hike in the cost of lifting fuel, saying it was partially responsible for the prevailing scarcity of the product. IPMAN Chairman in Kano, Alhaji Bashir Ahmed told The Guardian that marketers were constrained to commit huge resources on the current cost of the product, coupled with operational expenses, and still dispense at government-controlled price of N87.00 per litre.
Ahmed claimed that the current scarcity of fuel across major cities in the country was not due to unavailability of the product but owing to current increase in the overall cost of the product.
On why some independent marketers in Kano still dispense above the regulated pump price, he insisted: “Those selling above the N87.00 are very few and I may not blame them because no marketer will want to run at a loss”.
On allegation that some marketers are hoarding fuel due to the forthcoming general elections, the IPMAN chairman said “ No responsible marketer would procure products for billions of naira and willingly want to abandon it in stock. Let me tell you, there is no gain anybody can get in hoarding the product. I can tell you any fuel station you see selling is simply selling what it has and if they are not selling, that means they don’t have.
“The product is available, NNPC has fuel in abundance. If you go to Lagos you will see hundreds of our lorries on queue but we cannot load due to high cost and sudden increase.”
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