FUEL SCARCITY MAY PERSIST TILL…–PETROLEUM MINISTER
Timipreye Sylva,Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has said that the current scarcity of products being witnessed in many parts of the country may not end soon untill there’s full deregulation of the downstream of the nation’s oil and gas industry
He said the Federal Government, through the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, has ensured adequate supply of products but marketing outlets are bent on short-changing the public by hiking pump prices.
The Minister disclosed this while responding to questions from newsmen shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “Of course, I was expecting that question. Frankly, it is not a supply issue, as you can also confirm, so it’s not from us. But you know when you have an arbitrary opportunity; people will tend to take advantage of it. These are some of the fallouts of the subsidy regime.
“If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja, in most places, only in the Abuja metropolis do you continue to have these queues. Is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can probably afford to sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices within Abuja, because of the watchful eyes of the federal government, they cannot sell at those prices.
“So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all the things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate. But that actually is the problem, it’s not a supply problem, the country is well supplied as it is.
“NNPC has a very good supply, so it is not a problem from us, but it is the marketers. But we are engaging the marketers and will continue to engage them.
I think these are all the things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate. But that actually is the problem; it’s not a supply problem, the country is well supplied as it is.
“In fact, before now NATO said: because diesel prices were now going up, and of course, you know that diesel is deregulated already, the cost of their moving product has also gone up and therefore, we must try to do something about the bridging cost. We did that with them, we were able to respond to that and they were able to do something for NATO.
“Of course, the rest of the marketers are also saying: oh no, we must try to add a few things for them here and there. But we can’t continue as a government to increase the subsidy, we cannot continue to do that. Because of that, they are now saying: okay, in this Abuja metropolis where they feel it is right at the centre, they are not probably supplying the product as they are supplying to other places. But you will agree with me that there are no queues outside Abuja.
“I don’t know whether there are queues in some places in Lagos, but the queues are reported mostly in Abuja, and in some parts of Lagos not every part of Lagos, wherever they think they can sell at higher prices. There are no queues.
“But wherever they cannot sell at prices higher than the recommended price there are queues. That is the situation we find ourselves in for now.
“We are still dealing with that, we are engaging them. And of course, I’m sure even that is going to be taken care of, but it is not a supply problem from the government.”