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Editor’s Pick: CJN Will Never Directly or Remotely Make Political Comments or Innuendoes, says Aide

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Editor's Pick: CJN Will Never Directly or Remotely Make Political Comments or Innuendoes, says Aide

…Says this is the era of aggressive and even unconventional politicking!***

 The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola is a Judicial officer and not a politician, and as such, will never directly or remotely make political comments or innuendoes.

This is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Festus  Akande, the Supreme Court Director of Press and Information on Saturday in Abuja.

Akande was reacting to alleged comments made by Ariwoola on Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo state being a member of G5 governors.

“We wish to state unequivocally clear that the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola never at any point said such during his brief remarks at the State Banquet organised as part of the events lined up for the commissioning of the two Judiciary projects undertaken by the Rivers state government.

“We can’t really pinpoint where such barefaced falsehood is coming from…”

“Issues bordering on misconceptions and misrepresentations of this nature are not always strange in times like this when the country is preparing for general elections, as some people may want to take advantage of every opportunity to score very cheap goals.

“As we all know, this is the era of aggressive and even unconventional politicking, so, there’s nothing that will not be heard or seen at this crucial time, especially between now and February 2023, when the general elections will be conducted.

“People say whatever they choose to say, just to please their selfish interests and inordinate desires.

“We can’t really pinpoint where such barefaced falsehood is coming from; and certainly, we don’t also know at what point the CJN said he was happy that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was a member of the now christened “Integrity Group” or “G-5 Governors.

“We wish to set the record straight by making it clear that the CJN and other senior judicial officers were in Port Harcourt to commission the two buildings that accommodate the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s South-South Liaison Office and Justice Mary Peter-Odili Judicial Institute, which were conceptualised and constructed by the Rivers Government.

“Even at the State Banquet organised as part of the events, the CJN made it clear in his brief remarks, that he (CJN) was not in Port Harcourt for the State Banquet but simply to commission the two projects as a mark of honour for the Judiciary and Mary Odili.

“Similarly, he said he was very surprised to see the “G-5 Governors” (“Integrity Group Governors”), just as he equally expressed the same surprise when he saw them in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the reception organised in his honour by his state government in October 2022.

He said the CJN’s surprise particularly stemmed from the fact that he saw his own state governor, Makinde who incidentally is a member of the “G-5 Governors” at the Port Harcourt’s occasion.

He equally stated jocularly that being that Makinde married from Rivers State and is equally very close to Gov. Nyesome Wike, he would be able to replicate the developmental strides of the latter in Oyo State for the good of the citizens.

“This, of course, is a comment that, ordinarily,  ought to elicit applause and not myopic misrepresentations, as governance is all about positive comparisons and healthy competitions.

“Anyone or group of individuals making these unconscionable assumptions and pervading the misinformation are by implication, creating the impression that it is now a crime for the CJN to have come from Oyo state, which coincidentally, has a member of the group, Makinde, as the governor.

“Let it be noted that anything said,  assumed, presumed, reported or placed in the public domain outside the above facts, is simply a mere figment of the imagination of such authors and doesn’t in any way represent what the CJN said in Port Harcourt, as we are not ready to join issues with such purveyors of misinformation”, he added.

The group emerged after the PDP presidential primary where Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, defeated Mr. Wike and other aspirants in the race to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate.

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FG Must fulfill Obligation to Reap Benefits of Port Concession

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Buhari sets up 14-man committee to tackle supply, distribution of petroleum products

When the Federal Government embarked on port reform in 2006, culminating in the concession of cargo handling operations to private terminal operators, there were expectations of massive transformation in port operations, and aptly so.

With the concession, 25 terminals were handed over to private companies in Lagos, Rivers, Calabar, Delta and Onne, with the port authority retaining ownership of the ports.

The private companies were required to provide and maintain their own superstructure, including buildings and cargo-handling equipment at the terminals.

The objective of the port concession was to increase efficiency in port operation, decrease the cost of port services to stakeholders as well as decrease cost of running the ports by the government.

However, 16 years after the port concession, stakeholders insist the country is yet to reap its full benefits.

The general belief is that the port authority has not lived up to expectations with regards to provision of the enabling environment, and has not fulfilled some of its obligations in the concession agreement.

Maritime stakeholders postulate that the private operators have done their own part and it’s left for the government to fulfill its obligations for the country to reap the full benefits of the port concession.

Dr. Kayode Farinto, acting president, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), urged government to live up to its responsibility by providing 24-hour electricity.

He said even though the government had awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the road leading to the seaport, the work had been very slow. 

He said the government should prevail on the contractor to fast-track the implementation of its intermodal transport system as many of the cargoes that transited the port in terms of import and export solely relied on the road. 

“On the rail system, we have been hearing stories about the rail being bought, the rail system has gone beyond what we are having here,” he said.

He noted that the payment in dollars by concessionaires should be reviewed by the government so that it could add value and strengthen the naira.

He also called for the review of the port concession agreement, adding that a concessionaire unable to add value should be suspended.

“Port concession has brought another era of port operations into cargo clearance. It has added value and I can score port concession 60 percent, at least now, the custodian of the goods can deliver.

“Also, we have one or two indigenous companies that have a lot of success stories, likewise some foreign companies, in terms of handling equipment.

“Port concession is not a total failure, there has been a success story in one part and in some parts there is a need for the federal government to review it,” he said.

The ANLCA boss said there were new handling equipment that could handle thousands of containers in an hour, noting that any concessionaire with obsolete equipment was taking the country back to the medieval period.

“Fifteen years ago I visited the Antwerp Port, they are talking about Port Development Plan viz-a-viz 2035, we don’t even have port development plan, we don’t have a consistent policy. 

“We need to have a Ministry of Maritime Affairs so that we can use that opportunity to develop our port industry and more revenue can be generated by the federal government, and all these things have not been harnessed,” he said.

Before the concession, the entire operations of the ports were manually conducted, and bureaucracy worsened the situation making the entire port environment chaotic, Mrs. Joy Monije, a freight forwarder, said.

Monije noted that the concession brought improvement and innovations, with operations being done digitally.

“But before the COVID-19 pandemic, there had not been much improvement. It was as a result of COVID that so many things changed.

“COVID-19 helped to reduce human interface and introduced technology in port operations.

“People now know that it’s not compulsory to come together at the ports to achieve their aim. If it’s implemented more, by 2023, I believe things will be much better.

“In the area of costing, we are paying through our nose. Before now, we don’t pay demurrage and even on weekends when they don’t work, we don’t pay anything.

“But now things are done in stages, if one does not complete a stage, you cannot move to the next line and this distorts things, making us to pay demurrage,” she said.

The spokesman for Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Bolaji Akinola, said without a doubt, the economy had benefitted from the port concession. 

He listed the benefits of port concession including injection of private capital into port development, elimination of port congestion, modernisation of ports and better cargo handling equipment.

Others, he said, were competition among terminal operators, improved welfare and training of port workers and the institution of the condition of service for dockworkers. 

“Recall that prior to port concession, dockworkers were casualised; they did not have employers and did not have condition of service. 

“The narrative has since changed with the introduction of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which created a condition of service for them and also created room for review of their remuneration every two years,” he said.

Akinola said the drawbacks at the ports were a result of the cumbersome cargo clearing process and physical examination of cargo by the Nigeria Customs Service.

He added that the over-dependence on roads for cargo delivery, as well as bad roads leading into and out of the ports, were some of the reasons the country was not reaping the full benefits of port concession.

“I believe that once these challenges are addressed by the government, Nigerians will reap more gains from port concession,” he said.

Similarly, Mr. Hassan Bello, former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), said there had been gains in port reform; palpable yet limited.

He said the reform was short of being revolutionary, changing radically the dynamics of the port operation such as efficiency in port operation – largely because of the private sector participation, increased port revenue and others.

Bello said, unfortunately, the vestiges of the pre-reform era still remained, as efficiency was not optimal – port operation characterised by delays, inertia, lack of transparency, primitive and tedious cargo clearance procedures.

“The port is still being run as mostly a manual port even though some terminals are operating digitally. Thus, the port is still plagued by human contacts and having 21 days cargo dwell time – very long,” he said.

He said the reforms were not comprehensive and had gaps like multi-model access to rail, road, inland waterways; an absence of clarity and inclusiveness in the regulatory and legal framework.

“There seems, therefore, a lack of effort by the government to carry out structural reforms in related sectors, such as enhancing inland connectivity. 

“There is no deliberate linkage or integration of transport infrastructure, ports were haphazardly cited without regard to logistic dynamism,” he said.

In addressing the present state of the ports, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that there were options for the rehabilitation of the country’s ports. 

He said what led to defects in infrastructure at the ports was the reduction in the ability of the ports to generate revenue to invest in the rehabilitation of the ports and other off-dock locations and provide equipment for maritime service.

Bello-Koko noted that one of the options was for NPA to totally fund the port rehabilitation, but to do that, government needed to give concession and not ask NPA to transfer revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

“This year alone, we have transferred over N100 billion to the CRF and imagine if the amount is allowed back for the reconstruction of the port.

“To say NPA should fund it holistically, we know it’s impossible, reason being that normal construction period for such infrastructure is three years and there is no revenue to pay any contractor,” he said.

Bello-Koko noted that the second option was to go for a hybrid finance model where the NPA and the federal government would provide part of the money, while a multilateral lending agency would provide the balance.

He said another option was for terminal operators to reconstruct the ports but at a high cost.

“The decision taken by the ministry of transportation, NPA and probably with the federal government is to allow NPA to use 50 percent of the amount transferred to CRF in the next four to five years.

“If on average NPA transfers N80 million to CRF and is allowed to use 50 percent to reconstruct the port, it will go a long way and we hope we get the approval,” he said.

From the prevailing views, long after the Federal Government carried out its port reform, particularly the port concession, the country is far from benefiting maximally from the reforms.

And for that to happen, it is believed that the government must fulfill its part of the port concession agreements by proving key infrastructure and an overall enabling environment.

– An analysis by Chiazo Ogbolu

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Stamp Duty: Facts Nigerians Need to Have – by Garba Shehu  

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Stamp Duty: Facts Nigerians Need to Have – by Garba Shehu  

President Muhammadu Buhari came into office in 2015 to find that a law, which stipulated for the collection of a token on banking transactions existed but was not being correctly implemented

This anomaly arose because certain characters apparently formed a cartel with collaborators in the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST and were allegedly collecting and pocketing this money.

Soon after, a non-government organization posited to the administration that the Nigerian government had lost the sum of over N20 trillion to the Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System ((NIBSS) between 2013-2016 in this regard, claiming that the said sum could be recovered and paid back into the government coffers.

The consultants asked to be paid a professional fee of 7.5 percent and were placed under the supervision of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.

Following the lack of progress in the promised recovery, the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari wrote on March 8, 2018, to the SGF conveying a presidential directive that following the lack of progress and several expressed concerns received, the activities of the consultants be discontinued.

In the aftermath of this dismissal, the consultants sued the government.

A court of competent jurisdiction subsequently ruled in favour of the government.

Arising from the outcome of the litigation and the well-known controversy on the legally responsible agent for collecting this levy, the administration went to the National Assembly and caused an amendment to the law and removed NIPOST from the duty of its collection.

Having lost a potentially “lucrative” line of “business,” the sacked characters returned to the drawing board to formulate one form of trick or another to intimidate the government but the vigilant teams of the administration kept them at bay.

Lately, they returned to the government through Hon. Muhammadu Gudaji Kazaure with a plan to track the so-called lost stamp duties with the erstwhile consultant as chairman and Hon. Gudaji as secretary.

When it emerged that the petitioner and lead consultant of the committee the President had dissolved via the late Abba Kyari’s letter of March 28 had masqueraded himself and re-emerged as the chairman of the new recovery committee championed by the Hon. Gudaji, the President rescinded the approval he gave and asked that it be stopped from operating under the seal of his office.

Naira Redesign: CBN Revises Cash Withdrawal Limit

In addition to this committee being chaired by a petitioner, there were also other concerns relating to natural justice and fair hearing in having the Chief Justice of the Federation as a committee member and a serving member of the House of Representatives as Secretary, which are not in line with Section 5(1),(a)&(b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Once the President rescinded his approval to constitute this Committee, lost all legitimacy.

Arguments have in recent days been flying left and right over the rightfulness of a committee being dissolved.

People are entitled to hold opinions. But these opinions do not change the fact that under our constitution, the power of the president to appoint and remove persons or groups is duly entrenched and unless such powers are shared with the Parliament, the President can hire and fire literally at will, and in line with the law.

To go back to the main issue though, it is now evident that the consultants and petitioners’ claims of a missing N89 trillion from stamp duty appears false and a figment of their malicious imaginations.

The same set of consultants claimed in 2016 there was N20 trillion to be collected. It was found to be false. The entire banking sector deposit is not even up to half of N89 trillion.

Indeed, if the Federal Government can find N89 trillion Naira, it can pay off all its debt, both foreign and local currency and all state government debts and still have over N10 trillion left.

So, the claim by these so-called consultants and the disbanded committee is totally ridiculous and a complete mockery.

Our good friend and a committed party member, Hon Gudaji has tried to draw me into a public debate which I don’t consider a good idea.

In a video clip in Hausa and a press release in English both by this good friend of the administration, Hon. Gudaji Kazaure, invited me to answer questions, some of which are completely lacking in imagination.

I would have ignored the allegations therein. Yet, a wise man once said that a lie can travel the world while the truth is still wearing his shoes.

It is on the basis of the above that I decided to put some things straight and respond directly to Hon. Kazaure’s questions posed to me.

Specifically, I will respond to each of his questions as follows:

(A) “The money with CBN I & E window Account stood at $171 billion dollars as of 2020 what is the source of that money?”

To my knowledge, the CBN-established Investors and Exporters (I&E) Window is a foreign exchange trading platform where banks and other authorized dealers can buy or sell foreign exchange. These trades are recorded by the CBN daily and reported as turnover or activity in the market.

Contrary to Hon. Kazaure’s assertion, the I&E window is NOT an “account” where foreign exchange is deposited. It is simply a platform for trading foreign exchange. As of April 2020, the total amount of foreign exchange traded (either bought or sold) in the window was about $171 billion.

The size of this amount suggests that there is adequate liquidity or availability of foreign exchange and that anyone who wants to buy or sell would easily find a counterparty to trade with. The amount does not mean that we have $171 billion stacked away in some vault or saved in any account.

Note that both the CBN and authorized dealers are free to bring foreign exchange to the window, and in fact, the CBN is not the major seller of Foreign Exchange in that segment of the market.

(B) “The N23.4 trillion CBN gave as a loan to some banks, what is the source of that money?”

The CBN is best placed to respond to this question though I must say the assertion itself is both baseless and misleading. The total balance sheet of the CBN is not anywhere near N23 trillion. So how can it give such an amount in loans to any or some banks?

(C) “The N13 trillion loan to the federal government from FMDQ, what is the source of that?”

According to the DMO, the total amount of Nigeria’s domestic debt as of September 2022 is N21.6 trillion. Is Hon. Kazaure suggesting that a small company in Lagos holds over 60 percent of Nigeria’s domestic debt? More also, of the N21.6 trillion domestic debt, only N4.5 trillion are in Treasury Bills. How then can a company in Lagos hold more treasury bills (N13 trillion) than the entire treasury bills issued by the Federal Government?

For the avoidance of doubt, I also took time to reach out to the FMDQ ( Financial Markets Derivative Quotes) and understand from their audited financial statements that their holdings of FGN Treasury bills is just N7.99 billion as of December 2021.

(D) “Finally, what is the total equity of CBN and its National budget?”

Anyone who understands this question should provide an answer. I can offer this information: on an annual basis and in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the CBN transfers 80 percent of its operating surplus to the Federal Government as part of the budget revenues. In the last 6 years, this contribution has amounted to over N150 billion.

Let me inform, that Mr. President has not completely ignored these matters. Indeed, a duly authorized committee under the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is working to reconcile, recover and transfer all Stamp Duties into Stamp Duties Central Account.

The work is ongoing, it is not finished yet and the President will continue to show his keen interest in the matter of Stamp Duty collection.

*Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

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Nigerians reeling under the yoke of fuel scarcity

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NMDPRA seals 13 fuel stations, sanctions 3 in Akwa Ibom

With barely 26 days to the end of 2022, and with the busy Yuletide season beckoning, Nigerians have continued to groan over the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, in major cities across the country.

Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed queues at most filling stations in Lagos and its environs, as motorists spent several hours buying petrol.

The situation is unabating in Lagos, particularly in Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu, Agege, Ikotun, Surulere, Ikorodu road, Maryland, Ikeja, Anthony, Bariga, Ilupeju, Ikoyi and Victoria Island areas, as motorists are agitated for spending several hours on queues.

Though many filling stations in Lagos still sell fuel at the official price of 170 per litre, residents continue to lament the frustration experienced in getting the product to buy.

In Badagry, independent marketers sell petrol at between N280 and N300 per litre while some filing stations are under lock and key due to lack of supply.

A NAN correspondent in Badagry said from Mowo to Aradagun along Badagry Expressway, only two filing stations out of 10 stations sold fuel throughout last week.

At Samuel Ekundayo Way, Badagry, Mobil filing station and ENYO filing station sold fuel at between N170 and N175 per litre, but both experienced long queues of motorists.

Mr Ibrahim Opeyemi, a motorist, lamented that he was in the queue for two days without buying fuel.

“I have been in the queue since Wednesday, the price of petroleum here is reasonable, it is N170 and they are selling the product but many independent marketers in Badagry are selling a litre for N300.

“I want to appeal to the government to address the scarcity before 2023,” he said.

Mr Sam Ofade, a resident of Badagry, said illegal bunkering was responsible for the high price of petrol in Badagry.

According to him, over 500,000 litres of petrol are diverted to the Republic of Benin through independent marketers who collude with illegal operators to shortchange the government.

“Many women from Benin Republic cross to Badagry through our borders to buy petrol inside Ragolis bottles and Jerry cans.

“I want the government to investigate the illegal bunkering and high price of petrol in Badagry,” he said.

In Mushin-Isolo, NAN found out that selling in jerrycans was more attractive to attendants at filling stations who charged additional costs.

At G&G filling station along Mushin-Isolo road, a barber, Mr Ismaila Ofolahun, who bought fuel in his keg decried the difficulty in buying fuel.

Ofolahun said he paid N1000 before he was allowed to buy fuel in his 50-litre keg for N5,000, bringing the total cost to N6,000.

“I buy in excess so that my business will not run down,” he said.

In some suburbs of Ikorodu, majority of filling stations of Independent marketers sell petrol between N230 and N250 per litre. 

A visit to Dikram, Bravo limat, Akamok, mallo, Collins, Alaka Happy Days and Dominions Favour filling stations showed that they were all selling at above the regulated price. 

Some of the attendants who spoke to NAN said: “It is only during scarcity vehicles patronise us.

“We cannot sell below N230 per litre because of the high cost of foreign exchange in buying the product from depot owners.”

Motorists in Ikorodu town suffer the same faith, for instance at NIPCO filling station in Omitiro, petrol is sold for N175 per little while ADB filling station at Itamaga sells at N250 per litre, but they are subjected to long hours in queues.

Mr Samson Alejo, a motorist, said he expected the next government to do everything possible to stabilise fuel supply since it had been established that subsidy would be removed totally. 

Another motorist, Mr Femi Alekun, said petrol marketers should not be allowed to put Nigerians in dilemma anymore, and that their unions must be disbanded.

The lingering scarcity has thrown up a thriving “Black Market” in many cities, with hoodlums taking advantage of the situation to hoard products and sell to desperate motorists in jerrycans at exorbitant prices.

A five-litre jerrycan goes for N3,000 and 10 litres for N7,000 in the black market.

It was also observed that many women and youths are making brisk business, taking advantage of the perennial fuel scarcity.

Some homes around Idi-Araba area of Mushin had various litres of petrol displayed on their front porches for sale.

On Ikorodu road, black market activities are more pronounced as many youths sell petrol in jerrycans in front of filling stations. 

NAN found out that only filling stations owned by Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) sell at the regulated price of N170 per litre, while those owned by Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) sell between N220 and N260 respective petroleum marketers have blamed private depot owners for the lingering fuel scarcity, while some stakeholders blamed the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL) for not explaining to Nigerians the cause of the current fuel scarcity in the country.

Some marketers who preferred not to be mentioned attributed the current scarcity of fuel to three major factors. 

One is that the NNPC is broke and has no money to finance the importation of fuel into the country.  

To attest to the fact that NNPC is broke, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently said the NNPC, which used to remit 3 billion dollars into CBN account some years ago is now unable to do so.

The company is said to be highly indebted to some of its contractors/suppliers who are no longer ready to take the risk of supplying petrol to NNPC on credit.

The second point is crude oil theft, which was allowed to fester for too long, which has reduced Nigeria’s production capacity to below one million barrels per day.

This is considered a major blow to NNPCL’s ability to continue with its Direct Sales of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Products (DSDP) programme.

NNPCL currently has no crude oil to facilitate the DSDP programme as many of the contractors no longer have access to crude oil proceeds to finance the purchase of refined products for use in the country.

NAN learnt that there were products in vessels on the high seas but the owners of the products were unwilling to take the risk of supplying them to NNPCL on credit.

The situation is compounded by the fact that other players that could have helped to import fuel to ease the fuel scarcity cannot do so due to scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) or its high cost.

Marketers access forex from the black market at an average rate of between N700 and N800 to the dollar, which is considered a disincentive.

The petroleum marketers themselves have attributed the current fuel scarcity to the unavailability of petroleum products and difficulty in accessing forex.

According to the marketers, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) are struggling to get products from NNPCL, the sole supplier.

Mr Mike Osatuyi, the Operations Controller of lPMAN, alleged that NNPCL had stopped importing enough petrol to meet demand in the country.

Osatuyi was emphatic that marketers could no longer sell at the regulated price because the unsteady supply of petrol had resulted in higher prices at depots.

“We are experiencing scarcity because the product is not available.

“The price of a litre of petrol at private depots is currently between N205 and N210 as against N162.50.

“The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd., is the sole importer of refined petroleum products, which are not readily available to marketers,” he said.

The oil marketers and petroleum depot operators have, however, called for quick intervention by the Federal Government.

The Chairperson of DAPPMAN, Mrs Winifred Akpani, urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to comply with the Federal Government’s directive to end payment of port charges in dollars for petroleum products brought into the country.

Akpani maintained that accessing forex through the CBN window would enhance their capacity, facilitate a seamless supply of petrol, and birth a regime of sustainability in terms of storage, distribution and supply across the nation.

Stakeholders have also flayed the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) for not protecting consumers of petrol from greedy marketers.

They blamed NMDPRA, which they said had continued to look away, leaving consumers to their fate.

“When the authority was operating as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), it monitored and ensured that retail outlets that hoarded fuel were penalised and forced to sell.

“Likewise retail outlets that sold above the regulated price were penalised,” said a source who declined to be mentioned.

The source added that the management of NMDPRA had become a toothless bulldog that could not even bark.

The source urged NMDPRA to wake up to its responsibilities or let Nigerians know if the federal government had fully deregulated the price of petrol through the back door and saved the consumers untold hardship.

Meanwhile, the Group Executive Director, Downstream, NNPCL, Mr Adeyemi Adetunji, said the company was making efforts to end the lingering supply crisis, adding that about 2 billion litres of petrol sufficient to last for 30 days was available in its depots.

He said: “The NNPCL assures Nigerians of fuel sufficiency of over 2 billion litres availability. The company has enough stock in its depots to last for at least one month.”

The NNPCL attributed the long queues at filling stations across the country in recent times to the ongoing road infrastructure development project around Apapa, which is being complicated by the access road and challenges in parts of Lagos depots.

Adetunji said Abuja was equally impacted by the challenges experienced in Lagos, although he promised massive product load out including 24 hours operations in selected depots and extended hours of operations at strategic stations to ensure product supply sufficiency nationwide.

He said vessels had been programmed and massive load out from depots to various states were closely monitored.

He reassured consumers that NNPC was prepared to significantly increase products loading from depots to different parts of the country.

Also, NMDPRA in a statement on Nov. 30 assured there were no plans to hike the price of petrol.

The statement said: “The Authority wishes to inform the general public that the Federal Government has no intention of increasing the price of PMS during this period.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) has imported PMS with current stock levels sufficient for 34 days.

“Consequently, products Marketers and the general public are advised to avoid panic buying, diversion of products, and hoarding.”

The Authority said in keeping with its responsibilities as outlined in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the Authority assures the public that it would continue to monitor the supply and distribution of all petroleum products nationwide, especially during this holiday season.

Amid all these challenges, stakeholders insist deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil and gas sector remains the best solution to ending fuel scarcity in Nigeria. 

By Yunus Yusuf

– News Agency of Nigeria 

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