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Scarcity: Petroleum minister accuses marketers of diversion

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has said the scarcity of fuel across Nigeria is as a result of willful diversion of the product by some truck drivers.

Alison-Madueke, who embarked on monitoring of fuel depots and stations across Lagos, in a bid to restore sanity in the state, said the scarcity was artificially induced.

A statement signed by the acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Omar Ibrahim, stated that the minister began the monitoring on Saturday.

It said Alison-Madueke visited fuel stations in Mafoloku, Ajao, Bariga, Ikoyi, Surulere, Lekki-Ajah and Victoria Island axis.

She noted that findings indicated that the challenge may not be that of lack of petroleum product but the case of willful diversion of products by some marketers.

She said “Having gone round the state yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday) I can see that normalcy is fast returning as it is not just the filling stations in Ikoyi that are wet with products but also those in the
mainland and far locations like Ajah.

“Having said that, it appears there are lots of factors militating against efficient delivery of fuel. We learnt for example that some tanker drivers were changing the number plates of their trucks after loading to make it difficult for tracking. This is obviously being done to aid diversion of products from areas that are meant to receive them to other areas.”

Alison-Madueke stated that to deal with the situation she had issued directives to relevant parastatals in the petroleum ministry to arrest the trend.

She said, “I have directed the heads of the agencies to get back to me today and give me a clear picture and timeline in terms of numbers of trucks coming into Lagos, the volumes and where they are getting to in terms of the market.

“I want to establish that there is diversion. If we can establish there is, I want to know when and how this is being done. They need to supply me how these trucks are being tracked because diversion is not easy to do. The perpetrators will be sanctioned and I’m ready to publish names of anybody that may be involved.”

The minister said there was enough fuel in strategic reserves to meet demand for petroleum products. She noted that the Federal Government had no plan to increase the price of premium motor spirit for now.

Alison-Madueke, according to the statement, was accompanied by heads of some agencies under the petroleum ministry namely, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Department of Petroleum Resources, and the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company.

She further stated that the Federal Government would apply full sanctions against any oil marketer or petroleum product dealer found culpable in the hoarding or diversion of petroleum products.

In a related development, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, also led a team of the corporation’s top management on a similar inspection tour of filling stations across the Federal Capital Territory.

Yakubu and his team visited over a dozen fuel stations across Garki, Asokoro, Maitama as well as Central Business District of Abuja while pledging to extend the exercise to other areas of the FCT in days ahead.

The GMD said the NNPC had increased fuel supply to the FCT by increasing the number of truck allocation from the Suleja depot to Abuja and its environs to decimate the noticeable queues in fuel stations.

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