•Motorists groan, sleep in fuel stations as scarcity persists
•FG won’t hike pump price – SGF
•Buhari meets NNPC boss
•Marketers load fuel
Motorists across the country in desperate attempts to fuel their vehicles have practically relocated to the various filling stations within their locality.
Those who could not endure the pains and agony have been parting with their hard-earned money to purchase a litre of petrol for as high as N500.
The situation appeared worse in Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo Bauchi, Anambra, Katsina and other states on Saturday as our correspondents observed that the fuel situation had turned the yuletide season to a nightmare.
One of our correspondents observed a long queue of about three kilometres at the NNPC mega station on Ring Road, Osogbo on Friday night and on Saturday morning.
Some of the motorists told our reporter, who visited the filling station around 6am that they spent the night on the queue so that they could get fuel early the following morning.
One of the motorists, Olusegun Adepoju, said, “I came last night and decided to sleep inside my car so that I could buy fuel early this morning because I am travelling later today (Saturday) with my family members and I need to fuel the car.”
Another motorist, who identified himself as Saheed Muritala, said, “ I joined the queue on Thursday evening and I had to leave the bus on the queue till this morning but one of my neighbours told me that he slept in his car at the filling station.”
However, while many motorists are keeping vigil to buy petrol, black marketeers have started making brisk businesses selling the product for as high as N300 per litre.
Fuel queues had yet to disappear on Saturday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital,as many motorists, motorcycle riders and domestic users of the product, besieged the few filling stations dispensing fuel.
One of our correspondents observed that while most filling stations were dispensing fuel at the official price of N145, users of the product were paying N200 and N250 at filling stations in Ilaro and other border towns around Ipokia.
Some buyers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria, in Ota, accused the station owners of selling fuel at night above the pump price of N145.
“They only sell at night and they sell for N200 per litre,” one of the buyers in Ota, Ogun, who pleaded anonymity, said.
A mild drama, however, ensued at one of the filling stations along Ilaro Expressway, as the attendants and the manager fled upon sighting Department of Petroleum Resources officials and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The DPR Head of Operations, Mr. Kasali Akinade, led the surveillance team to the stations.
Akinade said the exercise became necessary after receiving information that some filling stations were hoarding, under-dispensing and selling above the pump price.
The fuel crisis in Oyo State also worsened on Saturday as a litre of petrol was sold for N500 by the black marketeers in the Sabo and NNPC areas of Ibadan, the state capital.
Commuters besieged the few filling stations which were dispensing the product.
Apart from the major marketers who sold the product at the official pump price of N145 per litre independent marketers sold a litre of petrol at high prices, ranging from N180 to N220.
In other areas of Ibadan, a litre was sold at prices ranging from N250 to N300 by independent marketers.
Transport fare also went up by 100 per cent. At the new Ife road park, the transport fare to Ile-Ife, Osogbo, Ilesa, which previously cost N500, N600 and N700, attracted N1,000, N1, 200 and N1,500 respectively on Saturday.
The fare from Ibadan to Akure, increased from N1,100 to N2,200 while the fare to Owo and Akoko, had gone up from N1,500 to N3,000.
At the Lagos park on Iwo Road, a trip to Lagos cost N2,000 or more as against the N1,000 fare on Thursday.
Also at the Ojoo park, the transport fare to Ilorin, which previously cost N1,500, cost N3,000 while the fare to Iseyin attracted N1,200 from the previous N600.
Some of the drivers attributed the hike in transport fare to fuel scarcity, saying that most of them bought fuel from black marketeers.
Saheed Olowe, a driver said a litre of petrol was sold for between N300 and N350 at the black market.
The scarcity was obvious in Akure, the Ondo State capital and some other towns on Saturday as some black marketeers sold petrol for N400 per bottle.
While a few major petrol marketers were still selling at the official pump price of N145 per litre amidst long queues, many independent marketers were selling through black marketeers at N250 and N300 per litre.
The Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria in Ore Depot, Mr. Shina Amao, said, “We are still talking to our people not to sell above the official pump price. Some of them have to sell above the official pump price in order not to lose.”
In Bauchi metropolis, the fuel scarcity continued to bite harder as most filling stations sold for between N170 and N200.
The black marketeers within the metropolis are, however sold the product as high as N350 per litre.
A passenger, Felicia Peter, who was seen at the motor park travelling to Jos, Plateau State, lamented that the development had led to an increase in the prices of foodstuff in the market and a hike in transportation fares.
SUNDAY PUNCH observed that motorists in Katsina State bought the product at N 1,080 per gallon while those who could not afford it had to endure the pains and agony of buying at the official rate at filling stations.
Abuja traders lament poor sales
Meanwhile, traders at the Garki market in Abuja have complained about low patronage, noting that they have been unable to meet their sales targets this season.
It was learnt that while foodstuff sellers were getting good patronage, traders in textiles, shoes and other personal effects were not recording much sales.
Some of them blamed the economic situation in the country which they said was compounded by the fuel scarcity.
A boutique owner, Mike Chukwu, said he had recorded moderate sales compared to last year, adding that the fuel scarcity “largely compounded the bad economic situation in the country.”
APC has failed Nigerians — PDP
The National Chairman of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, has called on Nigerians to use the occasion of this year’s Christmas to offer special prayers for an end to the government of the All Progressives Congress.
He said that it was obvious that the party and its leaders were not moving the country forward.
Secondus said in a Christmas message that the hardship Nigerians had been going through in the last 30 months of APC’s administration shows clearly that it was a mistake voting them into power.
He said, “The fact that Nigerians cannot get fuel to travel home to see their loved ones during this Christmas, even after the fuel price jumped from N87 per litre under PDP administration to N145 under APC, shows clearly that they have nothing to offer.
“As Christmas is the marking of the coming of the messiah by Christians, this is the best time to seek God’s intervention to send a leader who would save this country as the APC administration has failed the people woefully.”
Secondus said that never in the history of Nigeria had there been this level of disaffection with the government.
He said, “This Yuletide is therefore ripe for Nigerians to bury their political, ethnic and religious differences and go on their knees to ask God to save this country from the APC misrule and clear lack of direction.
“This is the third Christmas Nigerians are marking under APC government and the indignation on their faces across board shows that the people are sad and disappointed.”
But the All Progressives Congress accused the PDP of being desperate to make political gains out of the misery of Nigerians over the scarcity of petroleum products.
The National Public Secretary of the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in response to a statement credited to Secondus, in Abuja, on Saturday.
Abdullahi said the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration felt the pains of Nigerians and was doing everything to restore normalcy.
He said, “We understand that the Federal Government is doing everything to improve the situation and bring succour to the people as soon as possible.
“We also understand the unhappiness of Nigerians with this situation, which is happening for the first time in the Christmas period since the APC administration came to power.”
FG won’t hike pump price – SGF
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has assured Nigerians that the Federal Government is not planning to increase the pump price of petroleum products.
Mustapha, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, stated this on Saturday at the handing over ceremony of the mantle of leadership as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Inland Waterways Authority at the authority’s headquarters in Lokoja.
He said the fuel scarcity being experienced in the country in the last two weeks was being addressed by relevant agencies of government, adding that the long queues at filling stations would soon disappear.
The SGF attributed the scarcity to greed on the part of the marketers who created artificial shortfall to make profits.
Mustapha lamented the attitude of some Nigerians who derive pleasure in seeing others suffer, adding that it was unfair and ungodly for marketers to take advantage of the rush by people to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
He said, “I can assure the people that a day or two after the yuletide, the queue will disappear. The marketers caused the scarcity but we have engaged all the relevant stakeholders and we are confident that it will soon normalise.
“We are not thinking of increasing in the pump price. We have not discussed it and we will not increase the price,” he said, adding that panic buying was unwarranted.”
Marketers begin loading of 66 million litres petrol
Oil marketers on Saturday commenced the loading of about 66 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, from their various depots in Lagos for onward distribution to all parts of the country.
It was gathered that the loading would continue until Christmas Day and that queues by motorists at filling stations would disappear within the next one week.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Obafemi Olawore, told our correspondent that the products being loaded at the depots in Lagos were imported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He stated that it was wrong for the NNPC and other regulatory bodies to allege that marketers were hoarding and diverting petrol. He noted that the commodity was grossly in short supply before Saturday.
Olawore said, “It is correct that loading of products is ongoing at some depots. What I don’t want to hear is when they say (we are) hoarding, because we don’t have products to hoard. But now they are giving us products and we are loading. We will load even on Christmas Day.”
MOMAN comprises major oil dealers such as Total, Forte Oil, Oando, MRS, among others.
He said, “Currently we are taking delivery of 27 million litres, to be followed by another 39 million litres. And nobody is increasing the pump price of petrol. Nobody is also contemplating that. What PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria) said was wrong.
“Tell them (PENGASSAN) that you spoke with me and that the statement is wrong. Nobody is contemplating price increase. The problem is that there was shortage of supply but currently, the NNPC is bringing in vessels and we are working with them collaboratively and we are trucking out. We hope that very soon the situation will be brought to normal.”
The NNPC also announced on Saturday that it had intensified efforts to supply the market with petrol and other products.
It stated that six major marketers were loading products round the clock from their various depots in Lagos for onward delivery to all parts of the country.
It said the supplies were mostly from cargoes of PMS imported by the NNPC which were berthing daily and were being made to discharge their products immediately to address supply hiccups.
“Marketers are strongly advised against hoarding products as security agencies, working with industry regulators, would mete out appropriate sanctions to defaulters,” the corporation said in a statement on Saturday.
This is coming as the Department of Petroleum Resources declared on Saturday that depot owners who divert products or sell above the regulated ex-depot price would pay up to N20m as fine.
Buhari summons NNPC boss
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday summoned the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, over the persisting fuel scarcity across the country.
Buhari met the NNPC boss inside his official residence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was held as fuel queues continued to increase at the few filling stations selling the product across the country.
The Presidency announced the meeting between Buhari and Baru in a tweet on one of its twitter handle, @NGRPresident, on Saturday.
The statement indicated that efforts are ongoing to end the scarcity.
The message read, “Tonight (Saturday), President @MBuhari meeting with GMD @NNPCgroup, @DrMKBaru, regarding the fuel supply situation nationwide.
“The President is very concerned about the situation and all efforts are going into a speedy resolution. Update soon.”
As of the time of filing this report, there was no update on the meeting on the Twitter handle.