The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, says the corporation, working in conjunction with other agencies, has tackled the fuel scarcity that has pervaded the country within the last three weeks.
Mr. Baru, who had a brief interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa shortly after he performed Friday Islamic prayers blamed “greedy” marketers who chose to hoard the product after rumours of pump price increase emerged.
Q: What is the current situation about petroleum products in the country?
A: I’m happy to report that we have tamed the monster that reared its head as a result of the rumoured price increase about three weeks ago.
Fortunately that rumour instigated a lot of marketers to be very greedy and they decided that their fellow citizens should not enjoy the Christmas holiday and New Year with ease and decided to profiteer; starting by hoarding and diversion of products.
At the beginning I did address the press, telling the world that we have sufficient products that will last us 30 days through the New Year into January. But because the marketers wanted to inflict harm and pains on fellow citizens, they decided to hoard products, divert them and in some cases even smuggle products out of the country.
This has been tamed by the actions we took and I personally led the war around Abuja and other teams led the war in Lagos and other parts of the country.
As of this morning, I have gone round the Abuja metropolis and I have seen that the queues have reduced significantly to almost normal level and few motorists that I heard speaking on morning programmes concerning what I have seen said they have not spent up to 30 minutes to fuel their car.
So the monster has been tamed. In Lagos, the situation has been brought into normalcy as far as two days ago and we are also having the same thing in all other cities.
I promise that we have sufficient products that will last us for the next 30 days and we keep bringing in 50 per cent over and above our normal consumption into the country. And vessels have been lined up. At the moment I have eight vessels discharging products at various ports around the country. So Nigerians should enjoy the New Year. Mr. President’s directive and guidance which has been very helping has been executed and normalcy has returned.
Those marketers that have hidden products in odd locations, you better bring them out and sell to the public at N145 per litre maximum. If NNPC sold it to you at N133.28, you have sufficient margin within that ambit to be able to supply and sell to the public at maximum N145 per litre.
The NNPC are selling at N143 per litre so you should be able to sell at N145 per litre. If you go above that, the regulator, DPR and PPPRA with the support of law enforcement agencies particularly the civil defence, will make sure that the products are confiscated and given free to the public. This is the directive that we are working on by Mr. President and is being executed to the later.
Bring them out and sell these products, we don’t have any shortage and we are making massive loadings. Normally we should be able to have 850 trucks to satisfy the national consumption. But as at yesterday, we loaded 1,750 trucks to go around the country. So we will continue massive load out until we reach the former position whereby all the stations will have products and truck siding.
Q: Any plan to take legal action against the marketers?
A: We have met with the law enforcement agencies particularly with civil defence who have helped us to mop up those people selling in jerry cans and have also helped us to mop out some of the cars that have extra tanks at least within Abuja and environs and around the country.
The legal action is to apprehend the culprits first and then take them to the courts within the time limit that is speculated.
Q: Can you address the issue of subsidy because right now Nigerians are confused, the federal government said it has stopped the payment of subsidies, only to realise according to the Vice President that the NNPC is subsidizing petroleum products to the tune of N26 per litre?
A: Do you want me to remove subsidy? What I am saying is that the landing cost as should be sold in the pump without under-recovery should be N171.40. However Mr. President has directed that we should maintain all the parameters to ensure that it is sold at N145 per litre. And that is why we are selling at depot at N133.28.