The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, yesterday said the corporation was subsidising fuel because government was not favourably disposed to having the pump price exceed the N145 per litre.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents after a Juma’at prayer session at the Aso Villa Mosque, Baru said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that all parameters be maintained to ensure that the pump price does not go beyond the approved N145 per litre.
On the controversial issue of payment of subsidy, Baru retorted: “Do you want me to remove subsidy? What I am saying is that the landing cost, as should be sold in the pump without under-recovery, should be N171.40.
“However, Mr. President has directed that we should maintain all the parameters to ensure that it is sold at N145 per litre. And that is why we are selling at depot at N133.28.”
He explained that government’s effort has normalised the product’s supply in the country, just as he noted that the corporation had already tamed the scarcity monster, attributing the scarcity experienced by Nigerians to the activities of marketers who, he said, wanted to inflict harm and pains on fellow citizens by hoarding products, diverting them and in some cases even smuggling products out of the country.
He said: “I am happy to report that we have tamed the monster that reared its head as a result of the rumoured price increase about three weeks ago.
“Fortunately, that rumour instigated a lot of marketers to be very greedy and they decided that their fellow citizens should not enjoy the Christmas holiday and New Year with ease and decided to profiteer, starting by hoarding and diversion of products.
“At the beginning, I did address the press, telling the world that we have sufficient products that will last us 30 days through the New Year into January, but the marketers wanted to inflict harm and pains on fellow citizens.
“This has been tamed by the actions we took and I personally led the war around Abuja and other teams led the war in Lagos and other parts of the country.
“As of this morning, I have gone round the Abuja metropolis and I have seen that the queues have reduced significantly to almost normal level and few motorists that I heard speaking on morning programmes concerning what I have seen said they had not spent up to 30 minutes to fuel their car.
“So, the monster has been tamed in Lagos, the situation has been brought into normalcy, as far as two days ago, and we are also getting the same thing in all other cities.”
He continued: “I promise that we have sufficient products that will last us for the next 30 days and we keep bringing in 50 per cent over and above our normal consumption into the country. And vessels have been lined up.
“At the moment, I have eight vessels discharging products at various ports around the country.
“So, Nigerians should enjoy the New Year and Mr. President’s directive and guidance, which has been very helpful, has been executed and normalcy has returned.
“Those marketers that have hidden products in odd locations better bring them out and sell to the public at N145 per litre, maximum. If NNPC sold it to them at N133.28, they have sufficient margin within that ambit to be able to supply and sell to the public at maximum N145 per litre.
“The NNPC stations are selling at N143 per litre. So, they should be able to sell at N145 per litre.
“If you go above that, the regulators, DPR and PPPRA, with the support of law enforcement agencies, particularly the civil defence, will make sure the products are confiscated and given free to the public.
“This is the directive that we are working on from Mr. President and is being executed to the letter. Bring them out and sell these products. We don’t have any shortage and we are making massive loadings.
“Normally, we should be able to have 850 trucks to satisfy the national consumption, but as at yesterday, we loaded 1,750 trucks to go around the country.
“So, we will continue massive load-out until we reach the former position, whereby all the stations will have products and truck siding.”
The GMD indicated that the corporation was working with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other law enforcement agencies to arrest the menace of hoarding and profiteering by some marketers.
Baru vowed that any marketer caught in the act would be prosecuted, adding: “We have met with the law enforcement agencies, particularly with civil defence, who have helped us to mop up those people selling in jerry cans and some of the cars that have extra tanks, at least within Abuja and environs, and around the country.
“The legal action is to apprehend the culprits first and then take them to the courts within the time limit that is speculated.”