“We need a class action against NNPC. This is unacceptable”. “How come no one has been suspended?”. These were the words of some irate Nigerians on Twitter who are feeling like many other Nigerians on the current fuel scarcity in Nigeria.
Let’s be honest, fuel scarcities are not very uncommon, especially in Nigeria. In climes like the US and UK, it’s possible – for a pipeline hack or a shortage of fuel tanker drivers.
For the past 1-month Nigeria has faced this most absurd type of fuel shortage which is indicative of a serious problem and inefficiency in the petroleum sector. There was a particular video of a long fuel queue in Abuja that seemed like the distance covered in the just concluded Access Bank Marathon in Lagos.
Fuel abundance has been one of the bright spots of the current administration, although it is still unknown the accurate amount of litres Nigerians consume daily but is a story for another day.
Today, the focus should be on why no one has come out to bear responsibility for the long-suffering Nigerians have endured. It is inconceivable that in the current world full of sanctions, no one in Nigeria has been sanctioned for the entry of adulterated fuel into the country, and the damages inflicted on people’s cars and generators.
At the beginning of the crisis, NNPC conducted an investigation and the investigation revealed the presence of Methanol in 4 PMS cargoes imported by MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando, and Duke Oil.
MRS used the vessel, MT Bow Pioneer; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium imported the product via the vessel MT Tom Hilde; Oando used the vessel MT Elka Apollon, while Duke Oil imported its PMS using MT Nord Gainer.
Reading the reports on the cause of the situation and all you get are excuses and blame-shifting by all the combinations of capital alphabets posing as credible institutions – NNPC, IPMAN, NMDPRA, NUPENG, DAPMAN, MOMAN all telling different tales to the media.
No one but innocent Nigerians has lost in this fiasco. But who is culpable from the reports?
The Federal Government:
- Reason: Because the largest Oil producer in Africa has no business with importing fuel and petroleum products from Belgium and Netherlands for her citizens in the first place.
- What the FG has said: On the 9th of February 2022, the Federal government said, “they will conduct a major investigation into the importation of adulterated fuel and may compensate those affected.” The Nigerian Lawmakers have also told NNPC to “suspend companies that imported bad fuel”.
Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC)
- Reason: For not having measures to ensure the unadulterated fuel did not get into the country.
- What the NNPC has said: ‘’It is important to note that the usual quality inspection protocol employed in both the load port in Belgium and our discharge ports in Nigeria do not include the test for Percentage methanol content and therefore the additive was not detected by our quality inspectors.
Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN)
- Reason: Some unscrupulous Marketers under this association are selling PMS from the depots at prices far above the official rate aimed at forcing illegal increases in the pump price and compounding the woes of the masses amidst the scarcity.
- What they have said: “We want to place it on record that the increment is not due to any fault of oil marketers because we can only sell based on the price at which we buy petrol from the depots.
- “There has been an increment in the ex-depot price which has left marketers with no option than to increase the pump price of petrol above the official N165 per litre in recent weeks.
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG)
- Reason: failure to sanction and name and shame marketers that are selling above the official rate and allegedly having members that are diverting petroleum products.
- What they have said: The Union’s President and General Secretary threatened to name and shame the affected marketers if they continued with their illegal activities. “We are giving these Marketers twenty-four (24) hours with effect from midnight of Sunday, 27th February 2022 to revert to the official rate or we shall name and shame them as public enemies aside from other sanctions. “We have it on good authority that it’s one Marketer that determines and fixes prices of these products for other Marketers to adopt leaving all consumers (domestic and industrial) at their mercy.
- The deadline has passed, still no names…
Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA)
- Reason: Failure to check the excesses of some of the marketers that had products but selling above the pump price.
- What they have said: “The Authority is working with security agencies and other relevant security agencies to ensure trucks go to approved fuel stations with the correct volume and the correct locations”.
Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN)
- Two reasons: Their members have brought unadulterated fuel into the country and allegedly they are being accused of bypassing supply to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and selling the products at their notations.
- What they have said: Most importantly, MOMAN members have committed resources towards enhanced operations and associated activities to reduce the burden of the current fuel scarcity to our customers”.
The black marketers on the street
- Reason: For enabling and capitalizing on an unfortunate national tragedy.
The canvas-wearing fuel attendants
- Reason: For always using this opportunity to profiteer and fatten their pockets.
Nigerian Lawmakers have called for the right thing – suspension of licenses of the operators who brought adulterated fuel in. The NNPC GMD, who in all fairness has been one of the most transparent public officials in recent Nigerian history (by making public NNPC audit statements) needs to see to the end of this impasse.
The Federal Government should devise means where this situation does not repeat itself. Is the sector fully deregulated? Has the PIA been fully implemented? As the legal aphorism goes, “the supreme court is not final because it is infallible, but it is infallible only because it is final”.
The same dilemma pervades in governance. Government and Institutions need to understand their actions and inactions have an exponential effect on the people they oversee. Accountability is a very important currency in leadership and citizens have a right to demand every penny of it.