Marketers In Imo State Say Decision Of NNPC To Starve States In The Zone Of Petrol, As Against What It Allocates To Other Zones, Makes Selling At Official Price Impossible As Senate Sets To Probe Auditor General’s Expose
Members of the Imo State branch of the Association of Petroleum Marketers have said that it would continue to be impossible for them to sell petroleum products at the government approved pump price of N86.50 so long as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) continues to punish states in the south east with low allocation of petrol products under its “special petroleum intervention quota”. It said the quota allocated to Imo state is inadequate. The marketers said they could only get the products from independent marketers who sold to them at the above official pump price.
Speaking with journalists in Owerri, state chairman of the association, Chief Christopher Amadi, said Imo state was not alone in suffering consequences of low allocation by NNPC pointing out that other southeastern states of Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra, also suffered the same problem. He said the low allocation of products was responsible for the problem of petrol scarcity in the zone. “While other states receive more than 10 million litres under the NNPC petrol intervention quota, no state in the south-east gets above one to two million litres, and this low allocation is the reason why petrol scarcity in the area seems different”, Amadi noted.
He said, “If NNPC increases quantity of petrol to Imo, and other states in the south-east, marketers will sell at government control price”. Amadi appealed to the governors of south-east to assist petroleum marketers and look into the low allocation of petrol to states in the zone. Most filling stations in Imo sell a liter of petrol at between N140 and N150 as against the official pump price of N86.50.
Amadi further said that marketers were experiencing difficulties in sourcing products. “We only source products from private tank farms in Lagos, Calabar, and Port Harcourt at relatively high prices”, he said. The association chairman noted that due to distance and relatively high rate of transporting the products, marketers could not afford to sell at the approved price of N86.50 per liter, saying “marketers in Imo are not shylock minded as some people feel, but we are constrained to sell above official pump price as a result of the difficulties we are facing.’’ He therefore, called on the federal government to step up effort in reactivating all the nation’s refineries, noting “this present situation whereby Nigerians almost depend on private tank farms for the supply of petroleum products is bad”.
“I also appeal to NNPC to reactivate the NNPC depots in Aba, Enugu, and Makurdi, as well as construct a depot to serve Imo state. Population of Imo state alone has doubled what it was when NNPC Aba depot was constructed to serve the old Imo State”, he said. Documents released by NNPC on daily truck out of products from its depots across the country, indicate low level of activity in the south east and south south states. The UNION was unable to get any official explanation for the disparity.
Meanwhile, the worsening scarcity of petroleum products has gone acute in Lagos, forcing retail prices of premium motor spirit popularly called petrol to hit 11-month high of N135 per liter at remote places while cost of transportation proportionately shot up. Survey of filling stations showed that most of them have run dry of supplies while few retail stations operated by major marketing firms suffered crowd control constraints as desperate motorists defied order in frantic scramble to gain entry. At the depot clusters in Apapa, sources posted gloomy supply outlook as cargo traffic at major jetties in the state dropped sharply, indicating that the tight supply situation might still linger despite vows by the Petroleum Minister and Head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that supplies would normalize on Monday.
Also, Senate, on Tuesday, declared that it would thoroughly probe the various entities that were mentioned in a report of the Auditor-General, Samule Ukura, which alleged the non-remittance of N3.3 Trillion by the NNPC to the federation account. Senate’s decision to conduct an investigation into the matter was made known by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, in an interview with Senate correspondents.
“The 8th Senate has chosen to be different as we have stated severally since we came on board and for which we came up with our legislative agenda to make us different from the past because we are in the season and period of change and we want to seriously key in to that. “Along that line, you could see the courage that we have to make some differences from what has obtained in the past and on this note, we have passed reports of some committees like the TSA, which is a classic example. Through that exercise, we were able to save the country, N7 billion. “There are similar works that has been done.
We want to say that since we have chosen to be different. We urge Nigerians to wait and see what we will make out of the investigation. “Without holding forth for the past assemblies, I want to say that it is not as if they have not been doing anything about the past audit reports. But perhaps they have not taken their action up to the scale that would have made a huge impact that people want to see. If that is what the Auditor-General means, I agree with him. “The Auditor-General is raising a query. It is not an indictment.
So, when he raises his queries, the essence of the Public Accounts Committee is to invite those parties involved in the query, and through the instruments of their own work, investigate all the issues by seeking for clarification, and at the end of the day, where they have infractions or infringement on certain procedures, they mete out appropriate sanctions as stipulated by extant rules and regulations. “When there is a process and someone has done one part, until we conclusively finish that process, it will be wrong to accuse anyone of being guilty. These are administrative procedures, and the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has made it clear that we would take oversight functions far more serious than what it used to be in the past.”
– Sopuruchi Onwuka (Lagos), Teddy Nwanunobi (Abuja) and Damian Duruiheoma (Owerri)