The House of Representatives yesterday issued a one week ultimatum to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, (NNPCL) to end the lingering scarcity of petroleum products.
The House also called on the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to seek the collaboration of the Nigerian Police Force and the Department of State Service (DSS) to ensure that fuel was sold at the regulated price and in all retail outlets.
The resolutions followed a motion titled “urgent need for the government to end the current fuel scarcity” moved by Hon. Saidu Musa Abdullahi from Niger State under matters of urgent public importance at the plenary.
Presenting the motion, Abdullahi noted 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. He also noted that the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority had advanced excuses to justify the fuel scarcity.
He said, “First, 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.
“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 products in the depots and that the lingering scarcity was only caused by the break in supply of the product.
“When the scarcity continued, and all the excuses advanced by the stakeholders 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.
“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.
“While the fuel scarcity is heating petroleum stations of some major marketers that are currently selling fuel on government regulated price, some independent marketers who operate in the market have enough petroleum products selling at unregulated prices;
“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 lawmaker said there was a general hue and cry over the ugly development, lamenting that those charged with the responsibility of taking control of the situation were 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.
“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.
“It is further disturbing that the inability of the regulators of the petroleum sector to end this artificial scarcity of petroleum products forced the Department of State Services to issue an ultimatum to the NNPC and oil marketers to end the artificial scarcity within 48-hours”, Abdullahi added.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its committees on petroleum resources (Downstream) and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance with the resolution.