Yuletide: Buhari, Senate panel move to forestall fuel scarcity

Posted by Augustine Ehikioya, Abuja | 17 December 2018 | 961 times

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•Vehicles on queue at a filling station

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabir Marafa at the weekend met to deliberate on measures to take to ensure smooth supply of petroleum products in the festive period and beyond.

 Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Marafa disclosed that there is adequate quantities of the petroleum products in the country that will last six months.

But he said that some technical issues are threatening to disrupt the free flow of the products to the populace.

 From the outcome of the meeting with the President and coming meetings with stakeholders in the next few days, he was optimistic that the issues, bordering around payment of subsidies, forex differentials and interest, will soon be resolved. 

On why he was at the Villa, Marafa said “Basically, there are two issues. One is regarding the committee I chair in the Senate, that is the committee on downstream. There has been some disquiet in the industry regarding marketers’ payment with ministry of finance, DMO and the Central Bank, which we feel if not carefully handled, some enemies of the administration might bring about technical issues that could lead to queues on the line, especially government has provided enormous quantities of petroleum products across the country that can last the country up to six months through NNPC. 

“So, some people are not too happy about it and they want to sabotage the efforts of the government.

 “So, I’m the chairman and the President being the Minister of Petroleum Resources, I came to share some information and tap on his versatile experience in the industry as a former Minister of Petroleum Resources forty years ago, so there is abundant experience there.”

 Speaking further on the threats by depots owners to shut down with the festive period around the corner, he said “That is what I said, so we are now talking of technicalities, there is fuel in the country, in our seas, in our depots all across the country. But there are some technicalities now regarding payment of subsidies, forex differentials and interest, which this government inherited.

 “They are not a creation of this government. However, government is a continuum  and when the President came in he was confronted with it and he agreed and said fine I have stopped subsidy but since there are claims, we will look into it and pay.”

 According to him, bureaucracy has been hindering smooth payment of outstanding arrears owed depot owners, which was inherited by the current administration. 

“But now the bureaucratic nature of the computations is what dragged up to this time and depots owners are not too happy with what the ministry of finance has done and may be some other agencies.

 “So, we have been on it in the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost two weeks now. Finally, today, I have had quality time with Mr. President and we have looked into the whole thing.

 “By next week, we will invite all the stakeholders. I believe we should be able to get to the root of the matter. As for the depots owners, we are going to plead with them again to give more time, especially now that we have discussed with the head of the executive arm of government.

 “So, I’m sure everything will be resolved in the next few days.” he stated

He said that the second issue that brought him to the Villa was the political situation in his state, Zamfara State.

 With the courts now handling the issues that trailed the All Progressives Congress governorship primary elections in the state, he was confident that issues will soon be resolved.

He said “You know, to also tap on his experience of governance and may be conflicts resolutions and so on. We have had very good time and I got enormous advice on the way forward.”

Asked what he discussed with the President concerning the political situation in his state, he said

 “That is for me and him and not for me and you. So, we have discussed and the most important thing is for me to know what to do and where to go. So when he tells me something pertaining to you, I will tell you.

 On whether the APC governorship ticket in his state has been resolved, he said “We are still on. We are in court and hopefully we believe in the next couple of weeks, maybe two weeks from now, the courts will provide a way forward.

 “We all know what happened and it be prejudicial now to start discussing the issues on pages of

newspaper or television. We are on our way to an amicable resolution of the problems.” he said

Sourced from The Nation report 

Source: News Express

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