TRUTH KE? IT’S NOT IN THEIR NATURE/Ade Abiodun
Comrade Igwe Achese, National President, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has advised the Federal Government, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to tell Nigerians how they plunged the country into another round of fuel scarcity.
In a statement, on Wednesday, Achese said since the two labour unions in the oil sector were not on strike, there was no justification for the fuel squeeze which had worsened the suffering of citizens through increased transport fares and rising prices of goods and services as Christmas festivities approach.
“NUPENG reiterated the need for the Federal Government; the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and the NNPC to tell the nation what is actually happening, as the two labour unions in the sector are not on strike,” he said.
Decrying the current suffering and pains of Nigerians as a result of the persistent and “unjustified fuel scarcity”, he said the development had resulted in long queues, loss of man-hours and endless search for products.
According to him, it was a national shame and embarrassment for the citizens to celebrate the Christmas under the current atmosphere when Nigeria is the seventh largest producer of crude oil.
He implored the government to quickly address the situation instead of trading blames when the depots are dry.
He called on the Federal Government to implore the appropriate bodies to flood the nation with petroleum products as the year 2018 approaches as stop-gap measure.
He suggested the need for the nation’s four refineries to be revamped with a view to reducing the pressure on foreign exchange for importation of petroleum products from abroad.
Meanwhile, Nelson Ekujumi, Executive Chairman, Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), said in a statement that the activities of black marketers were responsible for the prolonged fuel scarcity in the country.
He said the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) was not doing enough to keep the illegal marketers at bay and monitoring the nation’s oil and gas sector effectively.
He added: “Time and time again, the sale of fuel at the pumps across the country have revealed sharp practices by marketers who under-dispense or sell above the official price because of the belief that nothing will happen and, truly, except in some situations, nothing really happens even when people make report to the authorities.
“The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from one’s observation over the years is as guilty for dereliction of duty just like those who have gone scot-free for breaking the law by under dispensing or selling above the official price.
“Thus, there’s need to rejig the laws for offenders in the oil industry to make it more stringent and deterring because the present reality for sanctions is like a slap on the wrist for economic crimes because it encourages and aids the impunity in the sector.
“However, one is glad by the recent pronouncement from the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on the plans to stop importation of refined fuel by 2019 as local refining is expected to come fully on stream just like in other oil producing countries of which Nigeria has been an exemption and embarrassment for so long.
“This is a commendable way to go and one hereby calls on Nigerians to hold this administration to its word on this promise in due course.
“One inescapable fact that has come out from the reoccurrence of fuel queues either before or as a result of the PENGASSAN strike induced one, is the need to reorder and restore sanity to our oil industry which is a house of commotion for exploitation and abuse by the stakeholders and the time to do that is now!’’