NNPC Didn’t Orchestrate Scarcity To Disrupt 2023 Elections, Says Kyari

… Says Over 120 DSS Officials Deployed To Monitor Truck Drivers In Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd has responded to the allegation that the ongoing fuel scarcity witnessed in some parts of the country is a deliberate effort to sabotage the efforts of a targeted presidential candidate.

The Chief Executive Officer of the oil giant, Mele Kyari, said on Wednesday that nobody orchestrated the queues to frustrate the chances of any candidate.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress had accused the Muhammdu Buhari-led administration of orchestrating policies to frustrate his chances in the February 25, election.

Tinubu had said during a campaign at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta in Ogun that the fuel queues and the naira redesign are a deliberate attack on him by a section of people in the presidency that are working against him.

“Let fuel be expensive, only they know where they keep it. Keep petrol, keep the naira, we will vote and be elected. You may change the ink of naira notes. What you expect will not happen. We will win,” the APC flag-bearer had said in Yoruba parlance.

The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai had echoed the same allegation on Wednesday during a live interview on Channels, stating that the queues at several filling stations and the withdrawal of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes were hurting Tinubu’s chances at the polls.

But the NNPC boss denied any wrongdoing, saying the queues first surfaced in February 2022 following logistics, arbitrage and other issues.

Kyari explained, “There is a very cumbersome logistics nightmare everywhere in the world where you move 1,800 trucks every day on the road on a consistent basis. Today, we have based on the records on our system over 38,000 trucks on our roads just carrying petroleum products and this is the reality.

“By the way, I think it is very good also to say that no matter what you do, once there is an arbitrage environment, some people will take advantage of it. And it is very contrary, we all respect the comments, I don’t think anybody sat down and orchestrated that there should be scarcity so that it will impact the election. I don’t think anyone did this. If it is so, we will know.

“But it is not true because the reality is that these glitches started well early in 2022. It has nothing to do with this election period. Once you have a challenge of this nature, it is a cyclic thing. Once you have this challenge, they will continue to come up. And then once you have arbitrage issues, you will have a glitch.

“Today let me just put it clearly, today, our redundancy in terms of petroleum product supply is just three days in this country. When you have a glitch, that extends longer than three days, you will need another three weeks to stabilize it.

“So, irrespective of what you do, whatever causes a three days glitch is a nightmare to tackle. We will always prepare. That is why we put everything possible to avoid glitches from happening. I don’t think anyone will sit down and say, let’s create this so that there will be an impact on the election and so on. There is no benefit in it. No one will do this and I can say this very clearly, there is no one issue that bothers President Muhammadu Buhari like this. There is no briefing that I go to brief him that he does not mention this.”

The NNPC said that the national oil company is taking all the necessary measures to tackle the issue of fuel scarcity.

He added, “Who is controlling scarcity and for what benefit? It is absolutely out of context. It is impossible. We are doing everything possible to contain the situation. Yes, there are lots of glitches. There is a lot of logistics nightmare, greed has come into play, there are cross-border issues that we have to deal with, there are international market situations that we have to deal with.”

Kyari explained further that the company is capable of living up to its mandate of bridging the energy gap as there is a sufficient quantity of PMS that can carry the country for 28 days at 60 million litres per day.

According to Kyari, the oil giant has embarked on road projects outside its mandate to endure motorable roads for trucks to move petroleum products.

“This energy company, NNPC Ltd, will provide energy security for our country. It is a requirement of the law, so, not doing this is a breach of the law and we recognize this. But providing PMS is not the only measurement for providing energy security for the country. There is a long value chain of interactions that must happen before you can take fuel from one location to the other.

“We don’t own all the trucks, filling stations, and depots in the country and there are other security issues associated with it, such as managing the roads to be assessable and we do intervene in all these places.

“We are engaging partners, including the regulatory authorities, the security agencies, and our commercial partners to make sure that these fuel leave the mother vessels all the way through the depots into the trucks and all the way to the filling stations.

“Some of the things NNPC has done have actually addressed some of these challenges. Many roads that have been abandoned for five to ten years are now motorable and nobody speaks about it.

“For instance, in Abuja alone, you have over a 120 Department of State Services (DSS) officers following every truck to filling stations. We are activating this across the country so that we can get other security agencies to follow these trucks to their locations.

“So, that we can be very sure that these trucks are actually getting to the fuel stations and they are not sold on the way and they don’t cross the border.”

He noted that it is not the mandate of the company to fix Nigerian roads adding that it does the service to remedy logistics problems encountered by trucks.

Explaining the cause of the queues, Kyari blamed some of the obstructions on panic buying.

The NNPC GCEO said, “For the ordinary customers, it is also very obvious that when people see three-four cars in the stations, they naturally rush in. And when your need is just ten litres when you see a queue of ten cars, you will decide to fill up your car and instead of you spending two minutes in the queue, you will end up spending ten minutes irrespective of the fact that you have the product in the filling station and this is what we call panic buying.

“Panic buying doesn’t mean people are afraid, what it means is that people buy more than what they require and as they do this, we have to add more and more supply beyond what they need to make sure that the panic is eliminated and that is why you are seeing queues across the country. There is no scarcity of fuel, but there is clearly issues around people responding to the realities that we are facing today.”

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