The Minister of State, Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, yesterday blamed regulatory failure for the current petrol shortage in the country, leading to loss of man-hours by Nigerians in long fuel queues across the country.
The minister in a statement signed by his Senior Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr. Horatius Egua, appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience while the mess caused by the development was being cleaned up.
Sylva stressed that all concerned stakeholders were currently battling to ensure that the supply chain was restored to its default settings, and cautioned against embarking on any blame game.
In addition to disrupting the country’s fuel supply chain, the product which led to the damage of several cars, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd., had disclosed, was imported from Antwerp in Belgium.
Sylva said it was regrettable that Nigerians were going through unwarranted pains to get the product, explaining that the situation called for collective action.
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 government in finding lasting solutions to the crisis.
“We appreciate the NNPC for showing so much 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.
“The Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been out on the streets, filling station by filling station to ensure that the situation normalises quickly and we are beginning to see the fruits of their efforts.
“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 Nigeria,” he stated.
According to the minister, after the storm settles, there would be time enough to investigate and get to the bottom, so that the situation will not repeat itself.
He added: “Mr. President’s charge to all parties and agencies concerned is to work together to ensure that normalcy returns quickly.
“The Nigerian people deserve the best and President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is determined to set the country on the right path of petroleum products availability and sustainability, as demonstrated in the award of the contracts for the rehabilitation of all our refineries and the acquisition of stake in the Dangote Refinery.
“Let us as Nigerians stand shoulder to shoulder in our shared quest for a greater country.”
Speaking in Abuja, the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, had said had stated that supply of petrol would normalise across the country in “a few days”, assuring that by the end of February, it was expecting at least 2.3 billion litres of the product to berth in Nigeria.
At the weekend in Abuja, a number of filling stations had started selling the product although long queues still remained in all the centres.
Culled from THISDAY