The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has given marching orders to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru to end fuel scarcity in parts of the country so as not to embarrass the Federal Government ahead of a major event billed to hold in Abuja next week.
This new directive from Kachikwu to Baru was coming on the heels of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, NIPS, slated for February 18-22, and described as a Nigerian version of the popular Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, held annually, in Houston, USA.
Kachikwu called for an end to the fuel queues in Abuja in order not to embarrass the Federal Government and foreigners coming for the programme.
He also said the Federal Government had given the ministry the nod to get experts and private investors to re-tool the ailing refineries and get them working up to 90 per cent capacity in order to meet the 2019 deadline of ending fuel importation.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja to acquaint newsmen about the upcoming petroleum summit, the Minister said he would instruct the NNPC to work day and night to ensure the queues disappear, even as he said the crisis was as a result of both policy and operational challenges.
Kachikwu said: “On these fuel queues, we are working round the clock to address it. Lagos is relatively okay. Abuja is struggling because of logistics challenges. But there is improvement from what you used to have late last year.
“I’ll instruct NNPC to work night and day to ensure this is over before next week. It won’t speak well for visitors to come and see queues everywhere.
“Mr. President is also committed to addressing this challenge. We have had price adjustments since I came in and he has said the price will remain where it is today. He understands the suffering Nigerians are going through and very committed to ending it. It requires some re-engineering. My directive is that they must get the products to all parts of the country”, the minister said.
On the forthcoming NIPS, Kachikwu disclosed that the event would attract loads of investments for the country by opening new business windows for both players in the private and public sector.
He said the event would be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, who would be represented by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“We want to reduce massive influx of Nigerian shareholders in OTC. It has turned into a massive jamboree and became a Nigerian gathering. So, we took a policy to reduce that. We came up with this and had FEC to approve it and also endorse the consultant with whom we will execute it,” Kachikwu said.