Pascal Emeka, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has held a meeting with the leaders of the NUPENG and PENGASSAN behind closed doors in the Presidential Villa, Abuja to promote peace and harmony in the oil and gas sector.
Briefing reporters after the meeting yesterday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said the meeting reviewed the oil industry and looked at how to end the petrol scarcity.
He said that the President, who had headed the sector before, shared some of his thoughts and possible solutions to the challenges.
Dr Kachikwu told reporters that the government was looking to see how it could get foreign exchange input to help in cushioning the crisis of petroleum supply.
“The President and I discussed extensively this morning and we talked about how to allocate more crude because His Excellency will rather have less crude, but having individuals in the society not suffer than have more crude and have them continue to suffer.
“We are going to put a new model to enable us increase the pace and actually get measures, as part of the crude that we are entitled to, to apply some of those to bringing in more product so that the role of the NNPC will go back to what it has the capacity to do.
“If we do that, I will expect that over the next two months we should see quite frankly, an elimination of this,” he explained, referring to the petrol scarcity currently being experienced across the oil-rich nation.
He further said that the government’s strategy in tackling the shortfall of supply was to reserve some refined products.
“Whatever is produced in the refinery will not go for sale. We are going to put that into strategic reserve.
“The key problem here is, because there is no reserve, anytime there is a gap in supply it hits us,” he stated.
The President is said to have tasked the workers in the oil sector to be agents of change and to ensure they take change on its head and make it happen.
The National President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), Igwe Aghaeze, said they discussed the issue of the petrol scarcity and the Petroleum Industry Bill at the meeting.
“We discussed how the oil sector will bounce back economically and make Nigerians smile again.
“Keenly we talked much more on the issues of the corruption in the oil and gas sector vis-a-vis the product allocations which we (NUPENG and PENGASSAN) are trying to do together.
He said that the President assured the unions that they would be part of the restructuring that would be made to address the issues and ensure that scarcity is out of Nigeria’s fuel service stations.
On his part, the President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Olabode Johnson, also recognised the fact that the President was not new in the sector and expressed optimism that he was capable of introducing the magic wand that would change the ugly situation.
Nigerians will be watching and waiting to see the queues disappear completely in a country said to be one of the biggest oil producers in the world.
It is only then that they will believe that the meeting had a fruitful deliberation.
Buhari Parleys With Oil Workers On Petrol Scarcity
Pascal Emeka, Abuja