The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, which has lingered for about two weeks, is not due to the absence of products but inspection failure, the Federal Government stated on Sunday.
It disclosed this as queues by motorists persisted in various filling stations in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa and Niger, as well as in other locations across the country.
This came as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, expressed regrets over the importation of adulterated petrol into Nigeria and its attendant adverse impact nationwide.
In a statement issued in Abuja by his Senior Adviser, Media and Communications, Horatius Egua, the minister said inspection failure caused the scarcity of petrol in Nigeria, as he sympathised with Nigerians on behalf of the Federal Government.
He said, “In the last weeks, Nigerians have grappled with fuel scarcity, not because of the absence of supply of products but due to inspection failure, which allowed adulterated products into the country.
“This is regrettable, and the Federal Government sympathises with the citizenry over the unforeseen hardship, occasioned by the inevitable scarcity.
“Let me once again appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the government in finding lasting solutions to the crisis.”
Sylva appreciated the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for showing concern to the plight of Nigerians by coming forward with an apology.
“This is unprecedented and shows that we on the government side are not afraid to take responsibility,” he stated. He further noted that the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority had been out on the streets to ensure that the situation normalised quickly, adding that the government was beginning to see the fruits of these efforts.
Sylva said, “This is a time that calls for collective action to save a situation that was not foreseen. It is not a time to trade blames as is customary in Nigeria.
“It is therefore not a time to query anyone but a time to come together to salvage the plight of the average Nigerian.
“After the storm settles there will be time enough to investigate and get to the bottom, so that this does not repeat itself.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Concerned Northern Forum has asked the Federal Government to sack the top management staff of the NNPC over the lingering fuel scarcity within 72 hours
The group said this in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Mallam Ibrahim Bature; and the spokesperson, Abdulsalam Kazeem, in Kaduna on Sunday.
The group warned that the failure of the government to act would lead to mass protest.
Meanwhile, transport fares, prices of foodstuff and other commodities have risen by over 60 per cent as Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, is being sold above N300 in many filling stations in Anambra State.
Our correspondent, who went around the state on Sunday, observed that transporters had increased their fares. A journey from Oba junction to Upper Iweka in Onitsha, which used to be N200 as of last week, went for N400, while a journey from Onitsha to Awka, which was formerly N500 went for as high as N800.
The development affected all the major cities of the state like Nnewi, Onitsha, Oba, Idemili, Nkwelle and some parts of Awka, where tricycle operators also increased their fares significantly on all routes.
Foodstuffs and other commodities sold in the markets were not left out as prices of foodstuffs also increased.
The situation led to hot exchanges between sellers and buyers in some markets.
In Bayelsa State, the fuel scarcity persisted as more filling stations operated by the independent petroleum marketers remained shut for business within Yenagoa and its environs.
The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that a few of the petrol stations that opened for business at the weekend around the Isaac Boro Expressway were selling a litre of the petroleum product for N250 and N300.
It was learnt that only the NNPC mega filling station along the Sani Abacha Expressway and another NNPC-affiliated facility at the Akenfa suburb of the state capital dispensed fuel at N162 per litre.
This had resulted in a long queue of vehicles at both stations even as consumers with different sizes of jerrycans scrambled to buy the product.
As tension persisted over fuel scarcity in Kwara State, the state government has redoubled its effort to ensure that the hardship encountered by motorists is ameliorated.
On Sunday, the state government continued the monitoring of distribution and sale of petroleum products, especially within the Ilorin metropolis.
The Commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology, Hajia Arinola Lawal, who led the monitoring team through Taiwo, Adewole and Geri Alimi areas of the state capital, expressed displeasure over the alleged sharp practices of some dealers.