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Petrol: How enforceable is Arase’s order?

One thing that the directive by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase, on Tuesday, mandating all Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and commissioners of police across Nigeria to arrest anybody found selling petroleum products in plastic containers has revealed is the propensity of public office holders to chase shadow instead of addressing the root causes of problems.

Arase while giving the order also warned fuel attendants at filling stations to desist from selling petrol in jerry cans and plastic containers, adding both buyers and sellers of the products would be arrested and prosecuted under the law.

Though the order may be well intended, still it remains to be seen how policemen who themselves go about in search of petrol with plastic containers in these days of unending scarcity of the product will enforce the order.

Come to think of it, how does Arase expect Nigerians to get petrol for their daily needs in the face of the worsening power crisis in the country? How for instance would businesses get petrol to power their generators if not buying in jerry cans and other containers? These among others are issues the IGP should have considered before giving the directive.

Fact is that the current scarcity of petrol which has persisted despite assurances by the government is the reason Nigerians are hurling plastic containers from place to place in search of petrol. The scarcity of the product has also provided fertile ground for black marketers and people who patronise them do so mainly because most filling stations either lack the product or they cannot afford to spend hours and days on queue to buy petrol.

So, rather than insist on enforcing the order, the IGP should prevail on government particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which presently is the sole importer of the product into the country to quickly end the current scarcity of petrol. Truth is that as long as the scarcity persists, Nigerians, the police inclusive will continue to buy petrol in plastic containers to meet their needs, making Arase’s order difficult to enforce.

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