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Fuel scarcity’ll end in nine days –Kachikwu …says he won’t resign, apologises to Nigerians

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The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, appeared before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) on Tuesday to give reasons for the acute fuel scarcity across the country and the efforts being made by his ministry to resolve the embarrassing situation.

He regretted the situation and apologised to Nigerians, who he said were really going through difficult moments, and promised that the scarcity would end on or before April 7.

Kachikwu said he would not resign from his position as minister and instead asked those who were threatening to stage a protest in Abuja to save their money because he took the appointment to work for his fatherland.

The minister stated, “I will not resign. I am here to do my job. Those who are planning to stage a protest against me in Abuja should save their fuel money because I have a job to do, and I am committed to doing it well.

“I share the pains of Nigerians. I feel that pain every day. I walk the streets and those who are following my trajectories since I resumed office would see that even on Christmas day, I was at the refineries. On Easter Day, I was in Lagos monitoring fuel distribution at the depots.

“I have given 24/7 attention to the problems in this industry, which are unbelievable. I have continued to work with one sole purpose in mind, which is that every problem will have a solution.”

Kachikwu added, “I do apologise if a comment I make jocularly with my friends in the press about not being a magician offends some Nigerians; it wasn’t meant to be. It is a side jocular issue and I did go ahead to explain what needed to be done. I didn’t intend to create this kind of hyperbole that it did.

“Let me admit that I am not a typically experienced politician. I am a technocrat. Some of the phraseologies that I may use, while being acceptable in the arena in which I play, obviously will not be acceptable in the public political arena. If anybody’s sensitivities were offended by that, I totally apologise.”

He attributed the current petrol scarcity to the refusal by the major oil marketers to import, diversion of the product by marketers, pipeline vandalism, panic buying and non-computerisation of the distribution network to monitor trucks.

The minister lamented that since the payment of N600bn subsidy arrears, which the current administration inherited from the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, oil marketers had stopped fuel importation.

The development, he said, had forced the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to overstretch its capacity, human resources and facilities in order to bridge the gap, but that the corporation lacked the immediate capacity to handle the task.

Kachikwu said, “Let me put the reasons for the scarcity in three categories. First, when we came in August, this country had arrears of unpaid subsidy claims that were in excess of N600bn, which were not paid for over a year.

“Progressively, over a period of eight months, prior to my coming on board, people had been staying away from importation not at a heavy level, but by about 10 to 15 per cent of allocations were not being met.

“There was hope that ultimately, if the subsidy regime continued, they would get paid; so, some people continued to import, but by the time we came in, people had reached a breaking point and most of the companies didn’t have the liquidity even to go to the banks and open letters of credit, and that became a major issue.”

He said it was obvious that having cleared the N600bn subsidy claims, the country could no longer continue with the subsidy regime owing to dwindling oil revenue and the fact that monumental frauds were being uncovered in the system.

As of January 1 this year, the minister stated that the country was no longer paying subsidy, saving a cumulative amount of over N1tn in a one year period.

Kachikwu noted, “The second major issue was that once the N600bn subsidy money was paid, the ability of the marketers to import the product became a challenge, because they could not raise letters of credit, and up to this point, that still remains a major issue.

“So, even if they wanted to import, they needed letters of credit and adequate foreign exchange cover. Some of them were owing arrears of liabilities as a result of the commitment I had made on petroleum importation.”

As part of efforts to ensure a lasting solution to the problem, he stated that the nation was setting up for the first time strategic reserves of about two million tonnes to provide products always.

He said these would be operational as from May and would contain between five and seven cargos of fuel per reserve.

Kachikwu said, “Once we do that, we should be away from the incessant fuel crisis that we have.

We expect that between now and about the 6th to the 7th of April, the fuel queues will disappear, the DSDP will begin and the foreign exchange allocation will see us smoothly through the track.

“The refineries will be working and the volumes they will be producing will be sent to the strategic reserves to address difficult times. In April, we are expected to get 150 per cent of the volumes that will be needed. A lot of that will go to storage tanks. Hopefully, that should sort out the problem.”

He said privatisation of the refineries remained the best solution to end the fuel crisis in the country.

 

Source: The Punch

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Olabode Olawuyi:s Dedication, Passion Will Forever Serve As An Inspiration To Us All-NBCA

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The Nigeria Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (NBCA) has stated that the dedication and passion of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, the late veterinary technologist killed by a lion at the Zoological Garden of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), would forever serve as an inspiration.

 

NBCA stated this in a statement released on Wednesday, February 21, adding that Olawuyi’s dedication to his chosen field shone for all to see.

 

In the statement signed by Mr. Dipo Bali, NBCA said that it was deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Olawuyi, who was the former Public Relations Officer for the National Zoological Agency (NAZAP).

 

“In memory of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, we pledge to redouble our efforts towards promoting responsible wildlife management practices and fostering a robust safety culture within the zoological and animal care fields. His dedication and passion will forever serve as an inspiration to us all.”

 

The group which described the deceased as a pillar of the Nigerian zoological community, also noted that he was lauded for his unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and exceptional service.

 

“He had dedicated years to the OAU Zoological Garden, providing exemplary care to its resident lion, whom he had nurtured since its birth. NBCA acknowledges the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Olawuyi’s passing.

 

“We extend our deepest condolences to his grieving family, friends, and colleagues at OAU during this difficult time. Our unwavering support stands with them as they navigate this profound loss.

 

“As an organization dedicated to wildlife protection and preservation in Nigeria, we recognize the inherent risks associated with working with wild animals. We remain steadfast in advocating for the strictest adherence to safety protocols and established guidelines to ensure the well-being of both wildlife caretakers and the animals under their care.*

 

Also, NBCA said that it remains committed to closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with relevant authorities to prevent similar tragedies from unfolding in the future, while also extending its unwavering support to the OAU Zoological Garden and its staff during this period of immense loss.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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