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FG’s pathetic Christmas, New Year gift



FG’s pathetic Christmas, New Year gift

If there had been any whiff of sympathy for the masses of this country since the Muhammadu Buhari administration came into power, some distasteful proceedings in the last few months have strongly put a lie to it.
The high-powered political manoeuvring of events around the president including the recent Abdulrasheed Maina saga and the current fuel scarcity have all highlighted one fact – The Presidency is faltering in its core responsibilities.
Sadly, the hardship being faced by the Nigerian populace has been amplified by the current fuel scarcity.
For the three weeks or so that the scarcity has lasted, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has pretended to be on top of the situation with soothing statements of having enough products to last for months and also playing on everybody’s sensibilities with endless “the fuel queues will end in a few days.”
Coming at a time everyone was preparing anxiously for Christmas, the Federal Government through the NNPC like in the past has succeeded in putting a sour taste to the yearly event, which unites most Christian families home and abroad.
While the scarcity and its attendant hardship persists, nothing is more appalling than seeing the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, comically dispensing fuel at a public filling station with a smile when families were actually stranded and hit with over 250 per cent increase in transport fare to various destinations.
To make matters worse, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, would repeat same dishonourable feat in Abuja a week later amid unending bickering between the corporation and oil marketers.
For goodness sake, how does a chief executive officer dispensing a scarce product in one filling station help the over 180 million Nigerians, who have been subjected to being second class citizens in their country?
Today, President Buhari’s initial body language, which instilled confidence of a new birth in Nigerians at the inception of the administration is fast eroding.
While most Nigerians had supported and justified the current difficulties and decay by blaming everything on the profligacy of the past administrations’ maladroit leadership, unfolding developments in recent time have, however, proven that the current power handlers are as guilty if not more than their predecessors.
If the NNPC being the sole importer of petrol is claiming to have supplied enough product to the marketers consisting of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to rid the challenges currently being experienced in the supply and w of petroleum products in the country, what will it take the Federal Government to investigate the facts and consequently sanction whoever is lying?
Today NNPC is the sole importer of petrol. This is not good for the economy. The truth is that the sole importation of petrol by NNPC is partly responsible for the current fuel crisis in the country. The events in the last one month have proven that NNPC is not well-equipped to solely handle the petroleum needs of Nigeria.
We call on the government to ensure that all the stakeholders in the sector are actively involved in the process. The monopoly by the state-owned oil firm in the importation of petrol should be jettisoned.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) also appears not to be living up to expectation as most filling stations are either hoarding the product or openly selling above the official price of N145 per litre. DPR should intensify their monitoring effort which should not be limited to Abuja, Lagos and state capitals.
Beyond the issue of supply is also allegation and counter allegation of indebtedness by both parties while the masses suffer without an end in sight to resolving the recurring menace. While the NNPC accused the oil marketers of owing it N26.7 billion for unpaid fuel, the depot owners accused the corporation of failing to supply them fuel after they paid N90 billion.
We call on both parties to resolve the debt issue so that it won’t further worsen the already precarious fuel situation. It is high time the Federal Government put an end to blame game on issues that have to do with the welfare of the citizens.
To complicate the issue, the subsidy regime, which did nothing more than aiding corruption in the past, is surreptitiously being brought back by the Buhari administration.
NNPC has confirmed that the subsidy currently being paid by the Federal Government on petrol has hit an all-time high of N26 per litre. With the state of economy, is the government buoyant enough for a new subsidy regime? Are Nigerians ready for another fuel increase? Definitely, no. What is the way forward? This should be the pre-occupation of the Federal Government at a time the four state-owned refineries are producing below capacity.
The central government and its agencies must urgently find an end to the fuel crisis. It should also sanction those sabotaging the process while product smuggling should be adequately tackled.
It is also time the Federal Government made a scapegoat of whoever has been responsible for the embarrassing reoccurrence.

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