What people saw as panic buying in preparation for the festive period has now turned to an actual fuel scarcity. The streets of Lagos are now filled with boys selling petrol in gallons because some filling stations claim they don’t have fuel. The queues are growing by the day with people waiting hours to buy fuel.
What is the cause of this fuel scarcity?
According to media reports, the scarcity started after it was rumoured that the government was planning to increase the price of fuel. This led to panic buying and hoarding of petrol products. While the government agencies were trying to debunk the rumour that is making headway around the country, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, at the weekend announced plans to withdraw its services from Monday, December 11th, 2017. This announcement by IPMAN further worsened the situation on the ground. Currently, it is being reported that some filling stations have adjusted the prices on their meters as fuel is being sold for N150 instead of N143.
IPMAN’s issue with the government
Last week, the Lagos state chapter of IPMAN threatened to withdraw its services from next Monday, December 11th, 2017, over an alleged breach of agreement by the NNPC.
IPMAN Chairman, Alanamu Balogun, accused the NNPC of defaulting in the bulk purchase agreement they reached to sell fuel to them at N133.28 per litre. He revealed that in the last eight months, IPMAN members had been running their filling stations at a loss due to the refusal of the NNPC to honour the agreement.
He further stated that Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMAN) were selling products at ex-depot price of N141 per litre to IPMAN members and this excludes the normal running costs, bank charges and other operational expenses. This has made it impossible for IPMAN members to dispense fuel at the N145 per litre approved retail price. The only way to break even was if its members sell fuel at N146 per litre.
“They are hiding behind these marketers to defraud us. They said they gave the product to private depot owners at N117 per litre ex-depot price. We expect they will sell to us at N133.38 per litre but they are not. And NNPC is not doing anything about it. We raised this issue at a recent seminar two weeks ago where Baru was represented. We implored him to investigate if we were lying. We also presented him with evidence, yet, nothing happened,” said Balogun.
What is the government doing to solve the scarcity?
The Nigerian government has ordered the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, to ensure that the scarcity does not exceed this weekend. This was made known by Alhaji Lai Mohammed while answering questions from journalists at the end of Wednesday’s weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House Abuja.
The Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream also summoned the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, to appear before it on Thursday over the ongoing scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, across the country. The committee also announced that plans have been concluded for it to conduct a nationwide inspection of filling stations over recent fears of fuel scarcity in the country.
Thisday Newspaper also gathered that two imported vessels were being expected in Apapa in the next 24 hours.
On Wednesday, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) ordered depot owners to give priority to tankers that supply product to filling stations within Lagos. The DPR has also intensified its surveillance of depots to prevent hoarding and racketeering by corrupt marketers, who might want to take advantage of the situation.
However, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to shut down all oil and gas installations, including disrupting fuel supply and distribution, across the country as from Monday, 18th of December 2017. The association said it will carry out its threat should the Federal Government fail to address its complaints within seven days.
Its major grievance is the unfair labour practices and seemly untamable posture of some indigenous oil and gas companies and marginal field operators by relevant agencies of government.
According to the General Secretary of PENGASSAN Lumumba Okugbawa one of the resolutions reached by the Association at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of October 13, 2017 held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was the condemnation of Indigenous Oil and Gas Companies and Marginal Field Operators, concerning their anti-labour posture and practices.
The association accused Neconde Energy Ltd (of Nestoil Group of companies) of sacking workers that joined the union and dehumanising them in total disregard to rule of engagement and the laws of the land.
Following this recent threat by PENGASSAN one will wonder if this scarcity would end before the Christmas. This would be the first scarcity in the country since 2015.