The Federal Government has said that Nigerians will have to endure the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country for the next two months.
Speaking to State House correspondents on Wednesday after leading union leaders in the sector to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu said the efforts put in place by the government would begin to yeild results in the next two months.
He however said he was not capable of doing any magic in the sector, adding that Nigerians will have to bear with government.
“One of the trainings I did not receive is that of a magician but I am working very hard to ensure some of these issues go away. And let’s be honest, for the five to 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 445 000 barrels that were allocated was to cover between 50 and 55 percent importation. So is quite frankly share magic that we even have the amount of products at the stations. We are looking to see how to get foreign exchange imput, the president and I discussed extensively on how to get more crude directed at importation. His excellency 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 actually get majors as part of the crew of those to bring in more products so that the NNPC will sort of go back on the capacity of what it used to do 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 but I will expect that over the next two months. Of course you are aware the DSAP programme begins in April so over the next two months we should see quite frankly 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 them in strategic reserve. Because the key problem here is that there is no reserve anytime there is gap in supply it goes off. So we are going to dedicate the next couple of months to moving all the products that we produce to strategic reserve so that we can pile up reserves in the nation and that will push up the reserves in the nation. Believe me this is giving me and my time sleepless nights and we are working on it and we are committed to making this go away, Nigerians should please bear with us,” he said.
Kachikwu noted that the meeting with President Buhari and union leaders was meant to close the gulf that existed between government and the workers, with a view to working together to solve identified challenges in the sector.
“The meeting with the President was basically to review in the oil industry some of the concerns areas that he himself is trying to find joint solutions and share thoughts. Like you know his excellency has too many constituencies first will be politics,second army and the third will be the oil industry so matter of this nature touches his heart very much. And this is the first opportunity that the unions have had to spend a bit of time with him as a father. So we shared thoughts, areas of concerns and some solution potentials and agreed to collaborate and work together,” he added.
Asked to explain the details, he said: “I will probably highlight a few areas of concerns. The PIB, the union wants us to obviously work harder than we are doing and try to get the PIB passed as soon as possible. They are worried about the fuel scarcity issue and want long term solutions to finally resolve this issue. They are worried about the refineries and are thankful we didn’t sell the refineries without looking to work collaboratively with them to see how to make the refineries work. They are worried about the utilization of depots and how best to do that, they are worried about all kinds of logistics issues that plague the oil industry. They are worried about job loss in the sector arising from the position of majors who feel that the economy is giving rough end of the sticks and then try to whittle down staff. And so we are going to be working with the oil majors to ensure that we do not experience the kind of job loss that we are hearing has the potential to occure in the sector.”
The National President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) – Igwe Achese led a few leaders of the union to the meeting while Comrade Olabode Francis Johnson led other leaders of the President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).