The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) has alleged plot by saboteurs in the oil sector to cause scarcity of petrol and return queues at filling stations at Christmas.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who raised the alarm at the weekend said his panel was working to scuttle the plan which he said had already been brought to the knowledge of the executive.
Marafa, who spoke with State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the untoward development was a fallout of a disagreement among stakeholders in the sector which the committee was trying to resolve.
“There has been some disquiet in the industry regarding marketers’ payment. The issue involves ministry of finance, Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). We feel if the matter is not carefully handled, some enemies of the administration may bring about technical issues that could lead to queues at the filling stations. Some people are not too happy about the issue and they want to sabotage the efforts of the government, hence my visit to the State House to brief President Buhari.
“I’m the committee chairman, and the president being the minister of petroleum resources, I came to share some information and tap on his versatile experience in the industry as a former minister of petroleum resources 40 years ago. So there is abundant experience there,” the senator said.
Marafa dismissed threats by tank owners to shut down, a development which could cause hardship for citizens during the festive period, saying there was fuel stored in all the depots across the country, enough to serve the people up to the next six months.
“There is fuel in the country, in our seas, in our depots all across the country. But there are some technicalities now regarding payment of subsidies, forex differentials and interest, which this government inherited. They are not a creation of this administration. However, government is a continuum and when the President came in, he was confronted with it and he agreed, saying he had stopped subsidy but since there were claims, he would look into it and pay.
“But now the bureaucratic nature of the computations is what dragged up to this time and depots owners are not too happy with what the ministry of finance has done, and may be some other agencies. We have been on it in the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost two weeks now.
“ I have had quality time with Mr. President and we have looked into the whole thing. By next week, we will invite all the stakeholders. I believe we should be able to get to the root of the matter. We are going to plead with the depots owners again to give more time, especially now that we have discussed with the head of the executive arm of government. So, I’m sure everything will be resolved in the next few days,” he said.