Attacking Buhari won’t save you from defeat, Atiku mocks Tinubu
• Stop going to Abeokuta, Obi taunts Tinubu
• Marketers hoard fuel, find alibi in revised LASG directive on operations
• Marketers may sue NNPC over inability to deliver PMS
• Again, Buhari back to PMS tracking as petrol scarcity persists
Less than a month to the presidential election and many months since the lingering fuel scarcity, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, in a jab directed at the government, alleged plot by some ‘powers-that-be’ to sabotage his chances at the polls through the fuel scarcity and naira redesign policy.
In a speech reminiscing his famous Emilokan address at Abeokuta, Ogun State, days leading to the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu, again, returned to Abeokuta for his presidential campaign, where he dropped the bombshell that the fuel crisis and the scarcity of the newly redesigned naira notes were artificially created to discourage people from voting for the ruling party.
President Muhammadu Buhari is the current Minister of Petroleum and Nigerians have been lamenting the scarcity of fuel that have since seen the price fluctuating between N185 to N600 per litre across the country.
The Abeokuta salvo came a day after President Buhari constituted a 14-member committee to address petrol supply and distribution challenges.
Considering that the candidate’s party is currently in power and runs the affairs of the country, there are concerns about the allegation and indirect affirmation of concerns by Nigerians about the state of the economy. The APC government has struggled to keep the economy running in the last six month, leaving serious issues and debts for the next administration.
Whoever wins the election, has to contend with the issue of subsidy, which is currently draining the purse of the nation, despite being inefficient.
The APC presidential candidate called on the people to remain resolute and resist any attempt by anyone to stop the election from holding.
Tinubu said: “We will use our PVCs to take over the government from them, if they like, let them say there is no fuel, we will trek there. They are full of mischief, they want to create fuel crisis, they have started creating fuel crisis, but forget about it, put your mind at rest, I’m assuring you, I, Asiwaju will end fuel scarcity.
“Let the price of fuel continue to increase, they are the ones that know where they are hoarding it. They are hoarding naira notes, they are hoarding fuel, we will vote and we will win.
“If they like, they can change the ink in the naira note, we will shock them, we will win the election; the opposition (the umbrella party) will be defeated.
“I’m a youth, I’m here for you and you will not be put to shame. We will take over the government from them; they are traitors that want to wrest the government from us.
“This is a revolution, this election is a revolution. They are creating artificial fuel scarcity, they are saying they want to increase fuel price to N200, but let your mind be at rest, we will end fuel scarcity, we will end fuel crisis. They don’t want this election to be held, they want to scuttle the election, will you allow them?
“They think they can create problems; they are sabotaging fuel. Whether there is fuel or not, we will go and vote and we will win. This is a superior revolution and when I tell you, you know what I mean, you know me, we are going to go there and win,” Tinubu said, addressing the crowd partly in Yoruba language.
Tinubu, therefore, charged Nigerians not to allow the fuel scarcity to dampen their spirits against exercising their civic responsibility, particularly at voting for his party to victory in the elections.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said his APC counterpart has become frustrated by his inability to stop the cashless policy and currency redesign of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that will curb vote buying and enhance the credibility of next month’s election.
Atiku, who spoke through his Special Assistant, Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said: “The Holy Bible says in Proverbs 28: 1 that ‘the wicked runs when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion.’
“Even though the CBN policy affects all 18 political parties, Tinubu is the only one frustrated because his plan to deploy bullion vans and bribe poor voters and security agents on the day of election has failed woefully.”
He recalled that on the eve of the 2019 presidential election, two cash-laden bullion vans were pictured entering Tinubu’s premises located on 26, Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi. “Several petitions were written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but nothing was done.
“Tinubu, frustrated by President Buhari’s unwillingness to attend some of his insipid rallies, launched an attack against the President who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum. For a man who claimed to have singlehandedly made Buhari president, it is funny that he is now running from pillar to post all in a bid to save what is left of his failed campaign.”
Also, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, has told Tinubu to stop going to Abeokuta. In the buildup to his party’s presidential primary, Tinubu went into a tirade, calling out those he perceived were standing in his way, including Governor Dapo Abiodun.
‘Emilokan’, ‘O lule’, which have since found their way to the Nigerian political lexicon, were used by Tinubu in Abeokuta.
Speaking through Diran Onifade, Head of Media, Obi/Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Obi said Tinubu’s advisers should tell him to stop going to Abeokuta.
“If I were to be Tinubu’s adviser, I would have advised him to stop going to Abeokuta. It was in the same Abeokuta that he made the gaffe of ‘Olule’ and how President Muhammadu Buhari was crying on TV, ’Emilokan’ and all that.
“Now, he (Tinubu) is saying the fuel scarcity is meant to make the elections fail and how they are going to take over power from them. Who are they or them? He could have been talking to the CBN governor (Godwin Emefiele) and the Minister of Petroleum, who is President Buhari. The same man that Tinubu has been campaigning that he wants to take over from and continue his good work.”
Meanwhile, new facts emerged, yesterday, on the lingering fuel crisis as industry stakeholders allege hoarding of product by marketers, who now hide under the revised directive of the Lagos State government to sell the product only when they desire.
Though the Lagos State government has said it will no longer go ahead with the restriction fixed for major and independent petroleum marketers operating on major roads, many of the retail stations only dispense the product whenever they deem fit, leaving motorists at the mercy of black market operatives.
In some areas in Lagos, including Surulere, Abule-Egba, Isolo, Agege among others, different conditions were given before petrol could be dispensed. While black market operators got preference, motorists were mandated in some stations to buy engine oil from the stations before they could access the retail stations.
Similarly, the nonchalant attitude of the regulatory agency— Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) – in monitoring retail stations and their activities, has also led many stations to sell the product at unregulated prices.
Also, marketers of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) yesterday, said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has been unable to supply the product paid for over the past three months.
The marketers said they may resort to legal action as a series of dialogue over the development has yielded no positive action while their businesses remain idle amidst indebtedness to commercial banks.
Under a monopolistic system, where the Federal Government pays fossil fuel subsidies to itself through NNPCL, the state oil firm has been the sole importer of PMS into the country and wholesale supplier to marketers.
With the import arrangement tied to direct sale direct purchase deal between NNPC and oil importers such as Vitol Group and TotalEnergies as well as domestic groups such as Sahara Group Limited and Oando Plc, the inability of Nigeria to pump enough crude to swap for product with the dealers meant that marketers won’t be able to import products directly, nor compete.
The prevailing situation also meant that a new contract signed by NNPC with Sahara, Oando, MRS Oil and Duke Oil, a subsidiary of NNPC to ensure that the contractors wait for about three months before being paid with products has remained a mirage.
The Guardian gathered from separate sources that the NNPC, while still collecting money from marketers, has a backlog running to over four months in PMS supply shortage.
The marketers said the Federal Government and the national oil company are responsible for the lingering fuel crisis being witnessed by consumers.
President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry said: “We are marketers, we want to sell products but our stations are idle. We have taken loans from the banks, which we need to pay.”
Gillis-Harry said members of the association have paid for products for months but NNPC has been unable to supply the product, adding that the marketers are helpless.
Going by the revelation of the marketers, Nigerians may be in the lingering fuel crisis for a longer time as Gillis-Harry said: “We are not getting product because there is a supply challenge from the source.
“We can only sell what we have been given. NNPC is the only one selling products to marketers. We have paid for over three months.”
He told The Guardian that dialogue is being deployed to deal with the situation including a meeting, which was held yesterday, but stated further that the last option could mean taking legal action against the state oil company.
“Worst case, we drag them to court. We have to dialogue first. We owe the banks. Our stations are idle,” he said.
Another marketer who pleaded anonymity said: “I am just returning from the depot. There is no product anywhere. There is a total shortage of fuel.”
According to him, marketers who have paid for products since October last year have not loaded.
“But NNPC keeps collecting money,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Tracking of Premium Motor Spirit, an agenda that has been on since the President Muhammadu Buhari government got to power eight years ago has been listed as a key role for a 14-member committee approved yesterday by the Federal Government.
Coming amidst the worsening PMS queues across fuel stations in the country, petrol marketers have told The Guardian that a large volume of petroleum products is being smuggled out of the country, a development compounding the prevailing scarcity in Nigeria.
A source close to mega fuel stations across the country told The Guardian that petroleum products, especially premium motor spirit is likely being smuggled out in large quantities in the face of the energy crisis across the world, more importantly in neighbouring West African countries.
Most of the big stations, according to the source, are getting products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited but are overwhelmed by operational issues as the lingering crisis is forcing their workers to work 24 hours in some situations.
The source further disclosed that mega fuel stations have been warned to adhere to product truck out and pricing templates.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed that the 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution management approved by Buhari would bring a lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.