By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah and TAIWO OGUNMOLA-OMILANI with Agency Report –
Most motorists in Abuja and Lagos yesterday celebrated Christmas on long queues at filling stations, as the scarcity of petrol bites harder in the country.
LEADERSHIP checks showed that many residents stormed the few filling stations selling the product in the Lagos metropolis in a bid to get the product but ended up celebrating Christmas at petrol stations.
They lamented that the few petrol stations stop selling the product as soon as hoodlums come into the station to disrupt the queues.
Some residents who spoke with our correspondent about the situation said the federal government should have envisaged that fuel scarcity would occur this time.
Some residents were also seen doing brisk business by selling the product along some major roads in the Lagos metropolis.
Lamenting about the ugly trend, Gabriel Adegbenro said, “This is a minus for this government. How come they subject Nigerians to this kind of hardship this yuletide period? This is not fair at all. This must be probed. Why now, this festive season? They keep talking about tourism. Just imagine how tourists will see us as a bunch of unserious people”.
Also, Mr. Benjanmi Kolade who expressed disappointment at government said people could not go out as a result of fuel scarcity.
“Some are even stranded because there is no money. In short, what the nation needs is divine intervention”, he said.
Our correspondent also observed that many Nigerians celebrated the season in a low key, but appreciated God for the gift of life and good health.
Commenting on the situation, Mrs. Funke Bamidele, appealed to government to take drastic action in solving the scarcity problem.
“Above all, we appreciate God for His faithfulness despite what is happening in the country but I believe that God will deliver His people”, she said.
Also in Abuja, it was observed that there were long queues in most fuel stations visited yesterday, including NNPC, Oando and Total filling stations.
Mr Chris Abiti, in an interview with NAN, said he and his family stayed on a queue at the NNPC Mega Station in Central Area for more than three hours.
Abiti said that something urgent needed to be done to avert the recurrent scarcity during festivities, especially Christmas and New Year seasons.
“It’s not the leadership problem or government at fault. It’s a systemic failure of some private companies and individuals causing the problems. Something urgent must be done to spare Nigerians from this yearly agony. We should not continue like this”, he said.
Abiti added that NNPC mega stations are better than other fuel stations because the queues are moving.
In a separate interview, Aminu Ibrahim, said he was not happy about the fuel situation, adding that “festive season should be enjoyed and not spent in the fuel station”.
He called on the federal government to passionately look into the fuel problem in 2018.
Similarly, Mr Teso Joseph told NAN that he spent over four hours on the queue at Oando filling station in Zone 4.
He said the station workers sell to some selected people and also in kegs.
Fuel Scarcity At Christmas Shameful – Osinbajo
Meanwhile, Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has described as such a shame the said reality that Christmas has been, to some extent, celebrated amid the discomfort caused by fuel scarcity.
He also stated that the Buhari administration is doing everything possible to quickly resolve the fuel shortages experienced by Nigerians.
Osinbajo who said this during an unexpected stopover at Oando Filling Station in Lekki area of Lagos State on Christmas Eve also stopped at Hayden Petrol Station on the Island.
In a chat with Nigerians from all walks of life on Sunday evening during the stopover, the Vice President noted that the federal government was moving as quickly as it could to solve the fuel crisis and reduce the difficulties Nigerians were facing as a result.
“It’s such a shame that Christmas has been, to some extent, with this sort of discomfort. This is deeply regretted, and l know that, despite the resilience and strength of people in Lagos and the Nigerian people, we would see ourselves through this and will enjoy our Christmas and have a great new year”, a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande quoted the VP as saying.
On what government is doing to stop the ugly situation, Osinbajo said, “We are trying to move as quickly as we can. Obviously, people have gone through a lot of pain and anguish in the past few days, and that is deeply regretted. We were trying to do what we can to move as quickly as possible and there is certainly enough products to be able to solve the problem.
“We will be able to solve the problem; the short period of scarcity is quite a bit of burden, but we know that so long as products are enough and the trucks coming out and feeding the stations, this will be over very soon.
“I am going around with the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources here in Lagos to ensure that first, the trucks are being loaded from all the depots, and also looking at the filling stations to see that things are moving on very well.
“The GMD of the NNPC is also working in Abuja to see that that things are moving quickly and we are moving around the country. So, we expect that it will be resolved very quickly”.
Also, in continuation of his on-the-stop assessment of the fuel situation in parts of Lagos, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday paid a visit to fuel depots in Apapa area of Lagos State.
During the visit to Oando and Total depots in Apapa, Lagos, Osinbajo reassured Nigerians that the Buhari’s administration was working round the clock to end the fuel crisis as soon as possible.
Osinbajo said one of the most important objectives of the Buhari administration is to ensure that the average Nigerian citizen is not again put through the pain of an increase in fuel price.
The vice president, alongside the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, also held a closed-door meeting with oil marketers in Lagos in a bid to resolve the issues involved with supply of fuel nationwide and clear up the queues at filling stations.
The VP said, “We have been here holding a meeting with major oil marketers and as you see everyone is at work trying to ensure that the petrol queues are cleared. We are trying to look at some of the issues and what needs to be done to ensure that things move very quickly.
“Just yesterday, Mr President tried to see how exactly he could really work on the problems that we are experiencing and how to very quickly clear up the queues and ensure that everyone is able to have a happy holiday; that’s exactly why we are here today.
“The GMD of the NNPC is up in Abuja and I’m here with the Honourable Minister (of State for Petroleum Resources), trying to take a look at what the problems of the marketers may be and also what other issues there may be getting the products to petrol stations across the country.
“We had a very good meeting and we hope that in the next couple of days we will be able to resolve the petrol queues and l hope this rather sad episode come to an end as quickly as possible”.
After his visits to the fuel depots today, the vice president who spoke with journalists in Lagos said, “I think that part of the reason why you find these disruptions at the end of the year is because of what we described as this winter phenomenon, where prices of petroleum products go up in the winter month in many parts of the world, obviously because of the places where we are getting the PMS from and the situations out there at this time.
“Obviously, that gives rise to problems of those who are bringing in fuel, and we had one or two short deliveries on account of some of these problems. So, clearly, what has happened here is that on account of some of the short deliveries that we have experienced, panic buying, hoardings in different places started. So those are largely the issues.
“So we are also trying to ensure that these sorts of disruptions won’t happen in the future and that’s one of the reasons why we are spending a bit of time to look at some of the issues.
“There’s a premium on products. That’s what it usually would happen at the end of the year, but if you notice it didn’t happen last year at all. We had a very smooth December 2016, there was no disruption whatsoever; it all went very smoothly.
Osinbajo continued: “So we can actually take care of those situations. It is when you have a problem, a disruption that you usually would find the hoarding. That’s what you are seeing today, we are seeing a bit of hoarding and the DPR has been going round the stations trying to regulate that and, in some cases, have to close down the stations and force the petrol stations to continue to sell.
“So, really all that can be done is regulation, and more enforcement by the DPR, which is what the DPR has attempted to do. But l think the ultimate solution is to have adequate supply going everywhere. Once you have adequate supply everywhere, the hoarding and disruption will stop.
On rumours on social media about a possible increase in the price of fuel, Osinbajo said, “We are certainly not expecting to increase oil prices at all; the government has absolutely no intention of increasing fuel prices and that’s it”.
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