As fuel scarcity continues to linger with no signs of abating despite repeated assurances by the Federal Government that endless queues at filling stations will disappear before Christmas, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has explained why the problem persists.
According to Mr. Mohammed, Nigerians were now paying for the sins of the Goodluck Jonathan government, which owed oil marketers huge debts in fuel subsidy payments.
The Minister explained that the indebtedness led to the stoppage of importation of the petroleum products by the marketers in the last couple of months, hence the biting fuel scarcity.
Mohammed, who was responding to a question by State House correspondents at the end of an emergency Federal Executive Council meeting on Monday, said: “What I will be telling Nigerians is that what we met on ground is such that we are paying for the sins of the last administration”.
“I am being very serious. You remember that about two weeks ago, we had to go to the National Assembly for a supplementary budget of N674 billion. Of that figure, N522billion was for arrears of fuel subsidy which was incurred as far back as August last year.
“One of the reasons for the fuel scarcity was the inability of the last government to make adequate provision for fuel subsidy.
“We do face some other logistic problems but majorly, we are paying for the sins of the last administration”.
When asked what solutions the All Progressives Congress government was proffering to the fuel scarcity it purportedly inherited from the last administration, the Minister said: “The first thing we have done now is to make sure that unlike before when the marketers used to import the major percentage of the fuel, NNPC has been involved in importation.
“This is because some of the marketers had stopped importing for a couple of months. If you see any fuel anywhere today, it is imported by the NNPC.
“We also inherited the vandalisation of the pipelines which has made it impossible for us to even transport the fuel. In tanks today we have 14 days reserve and off tank we have 10 days reserve.
“The issue is not non-availability of the product; it is the distribution because of pipelines that have been vandalised and the gridlock in Lagos.
“It takes about five days for anybody to take fuel with tanker in Lagos. As at two days ago this matter has been resolved. The Mosinmi pipeline has been secured and it has led to the improvement in the distribution”.