Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said he regretted the lingering fuel scarcity currently being experienced in the country.
He said he has directed relevant regulators to step up “surveillance and bring an end to hoarding and price inflation by marketers.”
In spite of being an oil producing country, Nigeria has been battling fuel scarcity in the last few weeks leading to the holiday season, a period that involves increased vehicular movements and a consequent uptick in demand for petrol.
“The fuel scarcity being experienced nationwide is regrettable,” Buhari, who is also Nigeria’s oil minister, tweeted on Sunday.
“I sympathize with all Nigerians, on having to endure needless fuel queues. I’m being regularly briefed, especially on the NNPC’s interventions to ensure that there is enough petrol available during this period and beyond,” he added.
The president has been under fire since the latest scarcity began. Last week, opposition governor Ayodele Fayose asked Buhari to resign as the minister of petroleum, accusing the Nigerian government of deliberately reducing supply in order to jack up the price of the product.
“The thinking is that by the time the scarcity persists for like one month, with Nigerians already buying at N200 per litre, the people will jump at it if petrol price is increased from N145 to N185 per litre,” Fayose said in a statement last week.
“This time, Nigerians will resist any attempt to further impoverish them by increasing the price of petrol.”
But the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said in a different statement that it was the fuel marketers that created the scarcity in order to force the government to increase the pump price of petrol.
“There is scarcity because marketers want petrol price to be increased,” said PENGASSAN’s media officer Babatunde Oke.
“They have been arguing that the margin is not profitable and therefore seek increment which the government has been resisting and pegging at N145 per litre.”
However, President said the NNPC was working to increase supply across the country and that the situation would improve in a few days.
“I have the NNPC’s assurance that the situation will improve significantly over the next few days, as new shipments and supplies are distributed across the country, he said.
The Guardian NG