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Kachikwu Fuel scarcity will end in Abuja, Lagos before weekend - Minister

According to the Minister, other cities like Port Harcourt, Warri, Sokoto and Kano will start experiencing improvement by the weekend.

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has stressed that the lingering fuel scarcity would be over in Abuja and Lagos by tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6 through Thursday, April 7.

Kachikwu said this today, Tuesday, April 5, during a town hall meeting he had with workers of the Petroleum Products Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja.

According to the Minister, other cities like Port Harcourt, Warri, Sokoto and Kano will start experiencing improvement by the weekend.

“Today we have the whole fuel queues and it is a complete nightmare for me. It is being a lot of work but the reality is that I hurt more like every Nigerian who is at the filling station, I am very emotional about my job and the things that I do," Kachikwu said.

“There isn’t sufficient reason why Nigerians should suffer this much, we just need to take the right policies as difficult as it comes, we need to take the right policies to ensure that we do not have this recurrence of fuel scarcity, it’s been with us historically, but I don’t want that to define my legacy in the petroleum industry.

“Hopefully by tomorrow through Thursday the fuel queues in Abuja should be over, hopefully the same thing will happen to Lagos and thereafter, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Port Harcourt and Warri get off this state.”

In finding a permanent end to future scarcity, the Minister said the only solution is to privatise the downstream petroleum sector.

“What concerns me more is not just getting the present queues out, that will definitely wear out, what concerns me more is how do you avoid having to have that ever again in this country and to do that there are certain things we need to do.

“First is that strategic reserve have not been in this country for over 20 years, we need to bring back strategic reserve that should serve 60 to 90 day type of product hold so that we can respond within a matter of hours when there is shortage in any part of the country.

“Two is that we need to find how to handle allocation of resources, for the first time I have been able to convince the major oil producers to allocate scarce foreign exchange to the downstream players to enable them bring in product.

“But that is not a futuristic long term solution, so we need to find a way of being able to fund this sector to do its work and there is no better way than to steer it to that path of privatisation, let them go do their things, we are going to have to look at that and it is not necessarily synonymous with an increase in price. Hopefully the price modulation that we have put in place will enable us do that,” the minister explained," he said.

In justifying the long term solution, the Minister said: “But really, in the states, we do not have queues as such, people are paying double the price to get product, and there is no place for that practice, not right but what it says to you is that obviously, there are some statiscal philosophy we need to watch in terms of whether we are pricing our products rightly for people to be able to participate in this chain.”

READ: Kachikwu apologises to Nigerians over 'magician' comment

He urged workers of the PPPRA to understand that their primary objective is to serve the Nigerian populace and be accountable to them.

He said: “First and foremost I am a servant and am here to try and serve you and the Nigerian public. The ministerial togas and titles are important but frankly they mean nothing in the absence of good service and I think that should be the call to duty in this country.

“There isn’t any problem I have seen that does not have a solution, every problem must have a solution. What we need to do is to do your research thoroughly, find that solution, target and execute it, and that is what I have been doing, because the petroleum ministry is the last hope of Nigeria, we are the 90 per cent earner, we are the foreign exchange galvaniser, if we fail, this country fails.

“We have to ensure there is accountability and professionalism in everything we do. We are very conservative about our costs, and we will continue to cut cost. Everything we do is a mirror of what Nigeria needs to do to be successful as a country.

“If there is no power, we complain, but if there is no fuel, we will bring down this country, if there is fraud anywhere, we will say well, that is OK but if there is fraud in NNPC, we will bring down this country and what it says to you is that so much is expected of this ministry and we must take leadership.”

On repositioning the PPPRA for better performance, Kachikwu said he would ensure that those due for promotions get what they deserve, noting that steps will begin on that within the next two weeks.

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