President Muhammadu Buhari doubles as both the president and minister of petroleum. Yesterday, the minister of state, petroleum resources said the current shortage in petroleum products is not going away anytime soon.
Fielding questions from journalist yesterday, the minister of petroleum state stated that: “Let’s be honest; for the five, six months we have been here, NNPC has moved from a 50 per cent importer of products to basically a 100 per cent importer. And the 445 (sic) barrels that allocated cover between 50 and 55 per cent importation. So, it’s quite frankly sheer magic that we even have the amount of products at the stations. We are looking to see how to get foreign exchange input. The President and I discussed extensively on how to get more crude directed at importation.
“We will rather have less crude but have individuals in the society suffer less with inconveniences than have more crude and have them continue to suffer. So, we are going to put a new model to enable us increase the pace and get majors as part of the crew of those to bring in more products. This way, NNPC can go back to its capacity and the majors will take over the balance of importation.”
“I think if we do that although I don’t want to put a time frame, I will expect that over the next two months. Of course, you are aware the DSAP program begins in April so over the next two months we should see a complete elimination of this. Our strategy is that whatever is produced in the refineries will not go for sale, we are going to keep it in strategic reserve. The key problem here is that there is no reserve; anytime there is a gap in supply it goes off. Our next line of action will to beef our reserves.
The National President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) Igwe Achese said his union was okay with the president’s decisions. According to him, “We had a successful meeting, quite interesting in terms of the emotional attachment of Mr. President on the issue of oil and gas sector and the challenges we are facing. We tabled the issue of fuel scarcity, the quick passage of the PIB and to see how the sector will bounce back economically.
“Clearly, we talked more on corruption in the oil and gas sector, product allocations. Mr. President assured us that NUPENG and PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria) will continue to be part of the restructuring he will make, and ensure scarcity is reversed.”