The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited on Thursday said the lingering petrol scarcity across the country is not a deliberate action to sabotage the forthcoming general elections.
The NNPC Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, disclosed this while speaking on NTA Good morning Nigeria programme Thursday morning.
Last week, during a campaign rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, alleged that a plot is being made to scuttle the general elections.
Mr Tinubu said the scarcity of fuel being experienced across the country and the redesign of the naira, the Nigerian currency, were part of the plot to sabotage the election.
“This is a revolution. This election is a revolution. We shall take over from them. They don’t want an election to take place, but we won’t accept it. They want to hide under fuel scarcity to cause the crisis so that there won’t be an election,” Mr Tinubu had said.
But speaking on Thursday, Mr Kyari said there is a very cumbersome logistics that has disrupted the supply chain of petroleum products.
“Today, based on the records on our system, there are over 38,000 trucks on our roads just carrying petroleum products and this is the reality,” he said.
“By the way, I think it is very good also to say that no matter what you do, once there is an arbitrage environment, some people will take advantage of it. And it is very contrary, we all respect the comments, I don’t think anybody sat down and orchestrated that there should be scarcity so that it will impact the election. I don’t think anyone did this. If it is so, we will know.
“But it is not true because the reality is that these glitches started well early in 2022. It has nothing to do with this election period.
“Once you have a challenge of this nature, it is a cyclic thing and they will continue to come up. And then once you have arbitrage issues, you will have a glitch.
“Today let me just put it clearly, our redundancy in terms of petroleum product supply is just three days in this country.
“When you have a glitch that extends longer than three days, you will need another three weeks to stabilize it,” he said.
According to the NNPC boss, irrespective of measure put in place, whatever causes a three-day glitch is a nightmare to tackle.
“We will always prepare. That is why we put everything possible to avoid glitches from happening. I don’t think anyone will sit down and say, let’s create this so that there will be an impact on the election and so on,” he said.
“There is no benefit in it. No one will do this and I can say this very clearly, no one issue bothers President Muhammadu Buhari like this.
Mr Kyari however said the NNPC is taking all the necessary measures to address the issue of fuel scarcity in the country.
He said: “Who is controlling scarcity and for what benefit? It is absolutely out of context. It is impossible. We are doing everything possible to contain the situation. Yes, there are lots of glitches.
“There are a lot of logistics nightmares, greed has come into play, there are cross-border issues that we have to deal with, there are international market situations that we have to deal with.”
He noted that NNPC Ltd will provide energy security for the country, adding that it is a requirement of the law and failure to do so represents a breach of the law.
‘But providing petroleum motor spirit (PMS) is not the only measurement for providing energy security for the country. There is a long value chain of interactions that must happen before you can take fuel from one location to the other.
“We don’t own all the trucks, filling stations, and depots in the country and there are other security issues associated with it, such as managing the roads to be accessible and we do intervene in all these places.
“We are engaging partners, including the regulatory authorities, the security agencies, and our commercial partners to make sure that these fuels leave the mother vessels through the depots into the trucks and to the filling stations,” he added.
Speaking further on the cause of the fuel queues, Mr Kyari blamed it on panic buying.
“Panic buying doesn’t mean people are afraid, what it means is that people buy more than what they require and as they do this, we have to add more and more supply beyond what they need to make sure that the panic is eliminated and that is why you are seeing queues across the country.
“There is no scarcity of fuel, but there are issues around people responding to the realities that we are facing today,” he said.
In recent months, Nigerian motorists and household users have had a tough time getting petroleum products at filling stations across the country.
The scarcity has persisted despite the government’s repeated claims it had enough petroleum products in stock.
Last Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the constitution of a 14-member steering committee to address the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.
On Friday, the NMDPRA attributed the lingering fuel scarcity in the country to a disruption in the product distribution chain caused by the activities of cross-border smugglers.
However, the agency claimed that there is petrol sufficiency of over 1.6 billion litres as of 26 January both on land and marine.
Despite the government’s position, it has been reported that Nigerians have continued to suffer from scarcity of petrol across the country.
Reports from last week detailed how Nigerians have continued to lament the hardship caused by the scarcity of petroleum products across the country as businesses and households that depend on generators for power supply groan in darkness.
On Tuesday, Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, Lucky Irabor, warned that the scarcity had become a ‘security concern’ and ‘nobody is indispensable’ in bringing a solution to the problem.