Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
With the difference between the N170 landing cost of petrol and N145 pump price ceiling, as well as the frustrating long queues at the fueling stations which has been on for three months now, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum on says the federal government had no plans to increase fuel price.
He blamed the lingering fuel queues across the country on the inability of the federal government had been unable to address the logistics and policy issues that could end the shortage.
Kachikwu disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja while explaining the ministry’s plan to host a new oil and gas conference and exhibition, the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), next week in Abuja.
The minister said the country would have to address certain fundamental policy issues especially with regards to the price of petrol to make the scarcity go away.
He, however, reiterated that the government was not ready to effect any pump price increment, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari was sympathetic to the sufferings of Nigerians in this regard and thus committed to keeping the price at N145 per litre.
Kachikwu stated: “I can tell you behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place because the fuel queue issue is both logistics and policy issues. We will need to address fundamental policy issues to enable it go away especially in the area where the pricing is showing differentials between the landing and sales price, what do we need to do to continue to sell at N145,” said Kachikwu.
“The president is obviously very committed in keeping the price of petrol at where it is because he realises and sympathises with the sufferings of Nigerians.
“We did a massive price hike two years ago under me, we don’t intend to do that again. We need quite a lot of efficiency re-engineering, that is one of the things that both the NNPC and most of the parastatals who are involved in this are doing. So, give us a bit of time, a little bit of patience,” the minister noted.
Responding to a question on how the country would host the NIPS in the midst of a lingering fuel supply crisis in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kachikwu said: “I take your point and my directive to NNPC would be to get these queues out of Abuja.
“The NNPC is working round the clock on this, if you remember when this first started in December, it was a lot more massive. Lagos is fuel queues free and a lot of the state capitals are. Abuja is still struggling because of the logistics issues. I haven’t gone round today but when I went round yesterday there was a huge improvement and I will be instructing the NNPC to do whatever it takes to ensure there was no queues next week.
“Quite frankly, they will have to do whatever it takes to get this eliminated in Abuja, that is the directive I will be sending to the NNPC and let them work night and day to put a lot more efforts in trying to do this.”