- IPMAN Debunks Allegation of sabotage
By Abdul Rahman Aliagan
Without any doubt, every December has become synonymous with fuel scarcity in Nigerian society, as Nigerians again thrown into confusion following sudden appearance of long queues at the very few filling stations selling Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) while a good number of the stations remain shutting in Abuja as well as in some other parts of the country.
Traditionally also, the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company, NNPC has also came out to assuage fear being nursed by Nigerians, reassuring that there was no plan to hike fuel price, adding that panic buying became unnecessary. The uncertain situation has thrown fear that, certainly, the festive season would be marred with fuel scarcity.
The scarcity that is fast spreading has cut across no less than 11 states. Some of the states currently affected by the scarcity are Kano, Lagos, Sokoto, Katsina, Borno, Kwara, Anambra, Delta, Kaduna, and Abuja with the PMS selling far above the N145 per litre official benchmark.
Time Nigeria investigation revealed that motorists were faced with fuel scarcity starting from Monday, it was equally noted that as the civil servants who closed for work were unable buy fuel as some of the stations were close down, claiming no fuel.
Our Reporters confirmed that a very long queue appeared at NNPC Mega Stations along Kubwa Express way around 8pm in the night beginning from Monday as motorists kept waiting for their turns as a result of rumour of likely price hike.
In a chat with Malam Muhammed Abubakar, a civil servant, he said, “It is becoming an annual thing, every December, there must be one artificial turned official fuel scarcity, either you like it or not. NNPC must equally come out to debunk one allegation or the other. But what is scary and surprising is that this year own is becoming too early, that is my problem and fear.
“I have been living in Suleja and working in Abuja for about ten years now, and of this ten years there has never been a year where there won’t be an issue of fuel scarcity by December but it has never came this earlier that is why am being scared.”
Another buyer Mrs Fidelia Martins in a chat with Time Nigeria said, “I have been on this queue close to two hours now, I had visited up to four stations before getting to this place all the stations were shut. This is the very first week in December, what would now become Nigerians when the festive period is closer?” She also quarried.
Our Reporters who also visited Karu, Mararaba-Nyanyan axis report the same experience mostly from commercial drivers. Mr Michael Augustine is a commercial driver who chosen to be plying the axis, said “The early experience on Fuel scarcity is a dangerous signal if urgent measure is not taking to address it. Even, when we are getting the fuel we are yet to break even, if we start buying black market now that will be disastrous.
The news of fuel shortage broke out in Sokoto over the last weekend and got motorists panicked and resorted to panic buying.
Some stations belonging to Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have started increasing the price of a litre to N151 to N165 between Monday and Wednesday. But major marketers maintained an official price of N145.
In South west, Lagos, our Bureau Chief reported that there were long queue at some filling stations on the popular Awolowo Road in Ikoyi, Ojodu Beger and at Airport Road.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) however insisted that there was no plan to increase the price of petrol, pledging it would avert shortage of the product during and after Yuletide.
Independent marketers in Lagos had earlier threatened to withdraw their services beginning December 11 due to alleged breach of bulk purchase agreement with NNPC.
The group had accused the corporation of selling fuel to it above the bulk price of N133.28k per litre, an allegation the NNPC denied.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamad, said the ex-depot price of N133.38 per litre and pump price of N143/N145 per litre had not changed.
He said the corporation had enough fuel to ensure seamless supply and distribution across the country.
The corporation urged consumers to disregard rumours of an impending price hike, saying it had the commitment of all downstream stakeholders including petroleum marketers and industry unions to ensuring zero fuel scarcity at the festive period.
The NNPC also urged motorists to avoid panic buying or storing petrol in their homes.
In Enugu, independent marketers began re-adjusting their pump prices in apparent readiness for a major scarcity. Although all the petrol stations in the state had supplies, prices, especially by the independent marketers, went up to N150/N155 per litre. Major marketers meanwhile continued to sell the product at the official price.
Some officials justified the hike, saying since the development had begun in other states, and it was only a matter of time before it became the trend.
Findings also revealed that there are some states that have not experience the scarcity of fuel as NNPC had allay the fear of any hike in the price of the products.