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Averting Another Fuel Scarcity

All indications point to a looming fuel scarcity in the next few days if nothing is done immediately to ameliorate the situation. This observation is coming on the heels of recent threats by Major Oil Marketers Association (NOMAN) to halt all fuel importation unless the Federal Government pays the outstanding N256.2 billion being owed it. According to NOMAN Executive Secretary,Mr. Obafemi Olawore,the association may not be able to import petroleum products as result of the debt. Painting a grim picture of the situation, Olawore lamented that the industry is bleeding while their suppliers are harassing them to pay up. “What we have at our Apapa depots will only last for three and half days, which shows that our members are finding it difficult to bring in products”, he said.
Definitely, these are grim times for the country and it would be insensitive of any one or organisation to add to the mounting miseries. That is why we are calling on the government and relevant agencies to honour all agreements reached with the oil marketers in order to stave off the impending fuel scarcity and its ugly aftermaths.
As we speak, the queues at the filling stations are fast returning, even as some of them claim to have already exhausted their supplies. We are scandalised by the fact that only recently, the Federal Government claimed to have paid the $30 billion exchange rate differentials owed the marketers over the last couple of months. Even the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that more than $500 million Letters of Credit had been opened by banks on behalf of the marketers. With all these assurances, one is still at loss knowing who is telling the truth and what is amiss.
Nigerians have for long been subjected to lives of miseries and hardships by those charged to look after their welfare. Invariably, the citizens are made to look impish and confused whenever they are faced with the hard realities of a pitiable existence in the midst of plenty. Of course, it is difficult to explain the fact that Nigeria, as the world’s sixth largest exporter of crude oil, the citizens still queue like war refugees to buy petrol at filling stations.
It is even more absurd that inspite of four refineries, the country still imports more than 90 percent of petroleum products for internal consumption. Incidentally, the four refineries have a combined production capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, enough to satisfy demand. This sad state of affairs is not only an indictment on both past and present governments, it is a pointer to the lack of political will to tackle the issue of petroleum shortage for the last time.
That is why we are calling for the privatisation of the refineries. Without that, Nigeria will forever witness shortages, and more importantly, will go on losing income and jobs to those countries from where the products are imported. Already a lot of money have been committed into resuscitating them to no avail. Besides, the government should encourage the establishment of private refineries. That is the only way out of the continuing cycle of fuel importation and scarcity.

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