· Apologises to Nigerians
· Says scarcity will end in April
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, told the Senate on Tuesday that he would not resign his appointment because of the lingering fuel crisis in the country.
Kachikwu, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), said there was no need for him to quit because he still had a lot of work to do in the service of the nation.
He apologised to Nigerians over the hardship they are facing as a result of the lingering fuel scarcity and assured the nation that the situation would ease off as from the first week of April.
Kachikwu has come under severe criticism by many Nigerians since he was quoted to have said the fuel scarcity would linger till May. This was why the Senate Committee on Petroleum
Downstream summoned him, after a tour of the major petrol filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday, to brief it on the way out of the quagmire.
Fielding questions from the Committee on Tuesday, Kachikwu said that given the level of work done to bring the situation to a successful end, he
was optimistic that by the second week of April the issue of fuel scarcity in the country would have been a thing of the past.
He said: “I do apologise for the comment that I made jocularly with my friends in the press about not being a magician and it offended Nigerians; it was not meant to be, it was a side jocular issue. So if any body’s sensibilities were offended, I totally apologise.”
“I was thoroughly coached before coming to this meeting but there is a potential answer to this question; first, is a political answer which says we are doing our very best for it to go away…but the training in me never attempts to be very exact because I’ve set a goal post.
“All I can say as an amendment to that is that in the month of April, within the first two weeks of April, we would have completely resolved this issue and we will not have this problem anymore.
“I am working very hard to make it the first week in April; is not going to happen in March and all I am doing right now is logistic arrangements to try and cushion the pains as much as I can and Nigerians can help me by not engaging in double-buying.
“But, once we begin to get into the 5th or 6th of April, you will see a dramatic change in all this. Sometimes it is difficult to change your skin at an old age so I tend to tell the truth the way it is, even if I get into trouble in the course of doing so. But the reality is that we are doing everything humanly possible; nothing is out of the table, no solution is thrown into the trash and we have gotten to a point where we can confidently say we are bound to see the last days of some of this occurrences in our history.”
On the call for his resignation, the Minister said: “I learnt that some people are planning to come to Abuja to protest that I should resign; I want to appeal to them to please save their fuel. I am not going to resign because I still have work to do”.
Kachikwu went further to tell the Committee that infrastructural deficits, vandalism, cabalism, black marketeering and hoarding, among others, were factors principally responsible for the unending fuel scarcity being experienced in the country at the moment.
On the infrastructural deficits, he explained that since the NNPC undertook the burden of importing 100% of national fuel consumption, the Corporation has been grappling with the problem of storage because it does not have adequate storage facilities to stockpile for national consumption.
He also said that vandalisation of oil pipelines had been a major problem because rather than concentrate on how to improve on the volume of oil production; government had to find means of fixing the destroyed facilities.
He however, said that he and his team of workers in the ministry and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were working hard to tackle the problem both in the short and long term basis. One of the strategies, according to him, is that his leadership was working hard to provide a strategic reserve of 2,000,000 tonnes of petrol with the intention to finally put periodic fuel scarcity in the country to an end.
The minister also stated that the latest arrangement between NNPC, major and independent marketers, would be at the ratio of 47 to 53 percent supply of the national consumption, noting that the previous arrangement was 48 to 52 and later 32 to 68 from the independent marketers and the NNPC, respectively, before NNPC started supplying 100% after the removal of subsidy late last year.
He also said that subsequently, 150 percent of national consumption would be deposited into storage tanks, adding that meaningful solution to fuel crisis would be provided when refineries were working in optimum capacities.
Kachikwu said the search for refineries’ full operations had led to several advertisements being run for individuals and private sector to take over the operations of the refineries and consequently expand their capacities.