The federal government has blamed the rising pump price of petrol around the country to the rush by petroleum marketers to make illicit profits from the hardship of Nigerians.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
He also lamented the hardship the situation had forced on ordinary Nigerians.
Reports from different parts of the country indicated that most fuel stations now sell above the approved pump price of N195 now, rather selling at prices ranging between N200 and N650 per litre, while many others were reportedly hoarding the product.
However, the Minister has vowed to repeat an earlier directive to the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to go after marketers profiteering with the current situation and sanction them accordingly.
He said government was not just folding its arms while Nigerians suffer, assuring that all stakeholders in the downstream sector were working to ensure the current crisis was brought under control.
“We have reports of profiteering by marketers, and I’ve directed NMDPRA to sanction anybody who profiteers on this kind of situation. I mean, we cannot stand by and watch our citizens being exploited by marketers.
“But of course, I’ve given that directive and I don’t know if it has not taken effect. I don’t know the details of how far that directive has been carried out. But I’m going to still further give that directive, if that is still the situation, but definitely we are not paying a blind eye at all,” Sylva declared.
Explaining that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was not in control of all the factors that had contributed to the fuel scarcity crisis, he assured that all steps were being taken to end the hardship.
“This is quite unfortunate, we are not happy at all about what is going on. Every hand is on the deck. As I said earlier, the Ministry of Petroleum is not in control of all the factors that lead to scarcity in the sense that there are Forex issues as well and other issues.
“But at the moment today, there is supply, but unfortunately, we are experiencing some bottlenecks with the distribution and movement of the product to various destinations for now.
“I want to assure you that everything is being done; the NNPC Limited, NMDPRA, the marketers, everybody’s hand is on deck to ensure that this problem is resolved and to also inform you today we had a briefing from INEC and INEC has also engaged NNPC and NNPC has assured INEC that petroleum products supply to INEC will not be a problem and so that will not likely affect the elections at all,” the Minister stated.