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NNPC BOSS FORCED BACK FROM TRIP FOLLOWING FUEL SCARCITY

The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, worsened in some filling stations in parts of Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday as panic buying and long queues forced the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, back from an overseas’ trip
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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), however, did not comment on the situation even as the price per litre went as high as N150 in some parts of the state. The NNPC, which earlier said that there was no cause for alarm over the fuel issue, declared yesterday that Baru was forced to abandon a Forbes Man of The Year Award in London and rushed back home over the queues.

An impeccable source told this newspaper that Baru’s return was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was enraged that the lingering issues of hike in ex-depot price above N133.28 modulated price between depot owners and marketers could be allowed to degenerate to long queues in Lagos and hike in pump price of fuel in Sokoto and environs. “He (Buhari) has requested the issue to be treated as an urgent issue of national importance because as someone who has requested governors to pay staff salaries before Christmas, he could not explain any scarcity of fuel during Yuletide,” a source at the Presidency told our correspondent.


A survey by this newspaper yesterday showed that the long queues, which were observed in more filling stations in Lagos and environs, were one-sided as those that engaged in panic-buying flooded some stations; some other stations were not dispensing, while other marketers were still longing for buyers.

The queues, which started on Monday, degenerated yesterday at Total filling station, along Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja; Mobil filling station, along Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi; and Conoil filling station on College Road, Ogba. Other major filling stations on the same axis were not dispensing while no queue was noticed at most independent filling stations within the metropolis.


At the Conoil filling station along the College Road, station attendants were giving preference to customers with kegs who were forced to part with N150 per litre. Others were forced to pay N100 extra on four litres of the product bought at N145 per litre. Mobile policemen were seen at the Total filling station along Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, manning the gate to control the queues, which stretched over 500 meters. Fairly long queues for petrol resurfaced in filling stations in Abuja yesterday.


 A survey around the federal capital showed that the queues resurfaced early in the morning at a few stations, especially in the central area. A drive around the metropolis showed that some of the fuel stations, which hitherto had idle pump attendants, now had queues to attend to. Speaking to NAN, a civil servant, Hannah Mshelia, said: “I was on my way to work this morning and I saw a little queue at the Conoil opposite NNPC towers.


“I decided to top-up my fuel because you don’t know what may happen later in the day.” Confirming that Baru “cut short his trip to London to attend to a matter of urgent national importance,” the NNPC said in a statement yesterday that its helmsman “who was billed to receive the Forbes Oil & Gas Man of the Year Award 2017 in the British Capital yesterday, had flown back home.


“Speaking on the development shortly before his departure back to the country, Baru called on Nigerians to stop panic buying as the Corporation was doing everything within its reach to address the situation,” the NNPC said in a statement issued by Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu.


 “For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on all Nigerians to stop panic buying. We have said times without number that NNPC has sufficient products to cater for the needs of all consumers,” Baru stated. Before leaving for London, the GMD, the statement stated, “had directed that more truckloads of petroleum products be dispatched to various parts of the country to cushion the effects of excessive demand caused by panic buying.” Earlier yesterday, NNPC informed Nigerians that there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming Yuletide.


The NNPC, in a release, said that the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and the pump price of N143/N145 per litre had not changed, noting that the corporation had enough stock to ensure seamless supply and distribution of products across the country.


 While assuring that the corporation had the full commitment of all downstream stakeholders, including petroleum marketers and industry unions to cooperate in achieving zero fuel scarcity this season and beyond, the NNPC enjoined motorists and other users of petroleum products to disregard rumours of an impending fuel price hike as reported in some news platforms.


 The corporation also noted that its downstream subsidiary companies namely the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and NNPC Retail Limited were fully geared to ensuring that motorists enjoy uninterrupted access to petrol throughout the nation during the Yuletide period and beyond. We had, on Monday, reported that private depot owners had pushed fuel pump price above N145 per litre.


A survey by the newspaper at the weekend showed that all the over 44 depots in Apapa now sell the product far above the N133.28 ex-depot price, while some sell for as high as N142 per litre at the depot. The independent marketers have earlier threatened to withdraw services of over 1,200 filling stations under its umbrella in Lagos and environs due to the price surge by depot owners, an allegation that was blatantly denied by the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN).


 Price schedule obtained during the survey by us also showed that the product was sold at N139 per litre at the De-Jones depot; Fatgbems was selling at N140 per litre; Folawiyo sold at N138.50 while Obat sold petrol at N141. Other price schedule showed that the product was sold at N140 per litre at Sahara; Stallonire sold the product at N141; Swift sold fuel at N141; Chipet sold at N141.50; while the product was sold at N138 per litre at NIPCO depot

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