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    Sunday, March 27, 2016

    Fuel scarcity: Tinubu Hits Kachikwu Hard

    The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has condemned comments by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu “that he (Kachikwu) was not trained as a magician and that basically Nigerians should count themselves fortunate that the NNPC under his stewardship has been able to bring in the amount of petrol fuel it is currently doing.”
    In a statement sent to The Guardian, and titled, ‘Kachikwu Needs To Know That Respect And Good Performance Will Do What Magic Cannot’, the former Lagos State Governor insisted he is “an avid and partisan supporter” of the President Buhari-led government and of the progressive policies of the APC.
    With that, Tinubu said he reserves “the right and the duty as a Nigerian to voice my opinion when I believe a member of this government has strayed from the progressive calling required of this administration. I do this because my greater devotion and love are for this nation and its people. Party and politics fall secondary.”

    He said: “Perhaps the statement by Kachikwu was made in a moment of unguarded frustration or was an awkward attempt at a joke. Whatever the motive, it was untimely and off-putting. The remark did not sit well with the Nigerian people; they were as right to feel insulted, as the Minister was wrong to have said such a thing. The fuel shortage is severely biting for the average person. They are forced to remain in lines far too long, for too much time, to pay too much money for too little fuel. This is no joking matter. Livelihoods and people’s welfare are at stake. With so much on the line, Kachikwu’s flippancy was out-of-line. He was basically telling Nigerians that they should be lucky that they are getting the inadequate supply they now suffer and that they should just be quiet and endure the shortage for several weeks more.

    “Kachikwu’s intervention was unhelpful. It panicked and disappointed the public as to the duration of the crisis. It insulted the people by its tonality. He spoke with the imperious nature of a member of the elitist government the people voted out last year and not the progressive one they voted in. Kachikwu must be reminded that he was not coerced to take this job. He accepted the job and its responsibilities knowingly. He also must remember that he does not own NNPC. This also is not a private company that owes nothing to the public except the duty of fair dealing.
    “He is a public servant. The seat he sits upon is owned by Nigerians, not by him. The company he runs is owned by Nigerians, not by him. They are his boss. He is not theirs. Power is vested in the people. He is a mere custodian or agent of their will. In talking to us in such a manner, he committed an act of insubordination. If he had talked so cavalierly to his boss in the private sector, he would have been reprimanded or worse. If wise, the man should refrain from such interjections in the future.
    “As his ultimate bosses, the people have a right to demand the requisite performance and respect from him. He should apologise for treating them so lightly in this instance.

    “His portfolio being a strategically important one, he needs to reestablish the correct relationship with the public. They no longer feel he is working for their optimal benefit as their servant. Instead, he seems to be standing above them, telling them to take it or leave it. For his policies and stint in office to be successful and a help to this government, he must have the support and belief of the people at this tough time. He must talk to them in a way that they believe he seeks their best interest and understands the hardship weighing upon them. He must ask them to work with him and perhaps to endure a bit longer but with the knowledge that he is working to resolve this matter as fast as he can and as permanently as possible. That he is dedicated to the position that once these current lines are gone that never again shall they reappear, as long as he has any influence in the matter.

    “To do this, requires no magic or training in that strange craft. It requires empathy, compassion and the willpower to forge a better Nigeria. These must be the common trademarks of those serving in a progressive government, for these attributes are integral parts of the spirit and ideals upon which the APC was founded. Upon such notions was this administration voted into office by the Nigerian people in the operation of their sovereign will to seek a national leadership that would pursue their interests to the utmost and give them every fair chance to live in a better Nigeria.
    “Even though times are hard, we must all realise that they would be even harder and much darker had we allowed the venal, kleptocracy of the PDP to continue to lord over the land solely for their selfish benefit and not for the common good.

    “I am confident that President Buhari and this government can resolve the issues that press us. From establishing full security and safety to staking a claim to true economic prosperity and fairness, this government shall salvage our national pride and purpose.
    Let all of us, in and out, of government never forget this. If we adhere to this remembrance, we shall see that magic will not be needed to bring the progress we seek.”
    Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Issa Aremu, also criticised Kachikwu over comments by the latter that it is cheaper for the nation to import fuel from overseas than refine it locally.

    “We condemn it and call on him to withdraw this unhelpful statement, failing which we demand he should resign,” said Aremu, who noted “with regret that Nigeria spends as much as $10bn yearly on importation of petroleum products.”
    Delivering a communiqué at the 11th delegates’ conference of the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in Kaduna, Aremu stressed: “I see no reason why Nigeria cannot build a modern refinery that will improve petroleum capacity,” adding that continuous importation is the agenda of a cabal whose desire is self gratification rather than the welfare of the masses.
    The expectations of many Nigerians for a stress free Easter celebration, meanwhile, have been dashed by the ongoing fuel scarcity, which in the last 24 hours took a turn for the worse.
    In many parts of the country, the very few stations that sold Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), yesterday, were attended by long queues, as frustrated buyers struggled to get the costly product ahead today’s festivities.
    In Kaduna, many motorists were forced to patronise black market dealers at exorbitant prices, as few fuel stations had the product. At the independent filling stations along Kachia, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Junction Roads long queues of motorists was the order of the day, as a litre was sold for N145-N155.
    Major marketers, like Mobil along Independence Way and Total at Ahmadu Bello Way, sold the product at the official price of N86 per litre. On the queues at both stations, however, were motorists, like Mallam Yinusa Abbas, who told The Guardian he had been waiting patiently for two days.
    A well-intentioned directive of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC) unwittingly compounded the scarcity in Bauchi. The outfit had threatened to arrest and prosecute unscrupulous filling station operators and roadside sellers.
    Armed with their money, would-be buyers are still not able to lay their hands on the product, as sellers have gone underground. Consequently, a four-litre gallon, which used to be N500-600, now sells for N1,100-N1,200.
    In Gombe State, black marketers are selling the product for N250 per litre, while filling stations are dispensing at N170, amid buyers’ uncertainty over the genuineness of the commodity. Fares, meanwhile, have gone up. A trip from Gombe to Bauchi, formerly N800, has climbed up to N1000. Gombe to Bajoga, which used to be N250 is now N500.
    Some marketers who spoke to The Guardian in Port Harcourt disproved claim by officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources that most filling stations have fuel but are refusing to sell it. The marketers explained that they purchased their product from independent depots; hence the DPR should not expect them to sell at the official price.
    At fillings stations in Eleme, Rumuokoro, Rumuodumaya, Rukpokwu, Eliozu, Omoku, Ahoada, old Port Harcourt and Worji, a litre of petrol was sold being for N150 and above.
    Four litres of petrol in Kano yesterday was sold for N800-N900, as black marketers took advantage of the scarcity to multiply profit.
    The stations of many major and independent marketers in the metropolis were locked up. And at the few stations that sold, the queues were long.
    The chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Kano, Alhaji Bashir Dan Mallam, blamed the scarcity on failure of the NNPC to supply the product to Kano.
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