Fuel Scarcity: The Shameful Blame Game

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By Eric Elezuo

What began like a child’s play has practically metamorphosed into a giant competition. And the players are shamefully twisting their mangled and disfigured bodies in a dance of rancor.

Few days to the festive period heralding Christmas and New Year festivities, the nation woke to an embarrassing long queue at filling stations. Most people dismissed the action as panic buyers attempting to stuck up their reserves with the product as against the time of merriment when they may not be opportune to go out. But events still playing out as at today have proved otherwise; it was nothing in the neighbourhood of panic buying; it is full scale and disgraceful fuel scarcity.

In the history of Nigeria, fuel scarcity has come to be a recurring decimal in the affairs of both the government and the governed, and even as the Buhari administration promised change, nothing seemed to be different, rather worse.

To make matters worse, the authorities concerned have been involved in a game of buck passing, blaming one agency after another for the scarcity while Nigerians agonize.

In the first place, the Vice President has said that it was the duty of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to pay the marketers for landing cost in an attempt to separate the government from its agency while the marketers turned around to blame the Federal Government’s policies for the dwindling importation of petroleum products as well as low operations in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. This was their reaction to the impending mass sack of oil workers in the industry.

On their part, the NNPC, through its Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, blamed the marketers for hoarding the products in anticipation of a price increase.

However, while the blame game persists, Nigerians on the streets are undergoing untold hardship in moving from one corner to another even as the scarcity has affected other items and services in the nation.

In a bid to find a lasting solution, the Federal Government in its usual characteristics set up a committee to look into the matter. The Senate on its part called off its holiday to reconvene on January 4 with stakeholders in the oil industry present. The near-stalemated gathering had two presidents of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in attendance making deliberation difficult until members of the committee decided to hear only the Executive Secretary of the association as the authentic voice.

What was missing in the meeting of blame was the Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari. The Minister has not been invited by anybody to explain why his ministry was lagging in his duties, but the law makers have been interested in inviting the deputy, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. No wonder that as at today, no solution has been found.

The President has to do the noble thing and relinquish the ministry to a capable hand since it is obvious he can’t handle it. And in the alternative, the lawmakers should be bold enough to invite him to answer for his ministry. It must be noted that assuming a position goes beyond bearing the tag, but doing the job. Buhari has not done the job of the Minister of Petroleum, only answered the name while Nigerians continue to agonize.

Time is now when the blame game should come to an end and a lasting solution discovered. Nigerians are really agonizing.

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