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NNPC Shuns Senate Summons As Fuel Scarcity Bites Harder

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – Officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and heads of many subsidiaries under it on Tuesday shunned the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) summons, even as the effect of fuel scarcity bites harder.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Magnus Abe, said that the meeting was to offer a platform for the Corporation to explain reasons behind the current fuel scarcity and possible way out even as the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA), Farouk Ahmed told the committee that there was no cause for alarm.

Angered by the absence of the Group Managing Director of the  NNPC , Joseph Dawha and other officials at the session, Abe said the committee was very disappointed with the NNPC action.

Abe who openly asked the clerk of the committee whether NNPC responded to the invitation forwarded to it last week in any way or not, said the corporation did not even have the decency to inform the committee of its planned absence at the session either through letter or phone call.

He said: “We invited NNPC to this session since last week. The corporation did not even have the decency to respond to the invitation letter or even through phone call, inform this committee ahead of its absence today, a very bad practice we thought it had ended with, last year.

“This committee is very disappointed that NNPC officials are telling us that we are back to where we were last year but we will not tolerate this any longer from them because we will never allow NNPC to frustrate us from scrutinizing its records.

“Consequently, this committee has directed its clerk to re invite NNPC officials and heads of other subsidiaries like Department of Petroleum Resources ( DPR), Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) etc, for a session they must all attend unfailingly tomorrow (Wednesday) by

2pm prompt and with this fresh invitation, we are also sending a note of warning to them that the constitutional power of this committee will be visited fully on any one of them that fails to comply with the fresh invitation”.

The PPPRA boss had earlier in his submissions before the committee, explained that the current fuel scarcity was a manifestation of the problem  devaluation of Naira in November last year caused in the sector.

He said: “The recent events have to do with delay in the arrival of cargoes. Non-arrival of cargoes made it difficult for petroleum motor spirit (PMS) to be delivered. What actually complicated it was the devaluation of naira – two times. The first one that took place

on November 28 devalued Naira from N155 to N168 to $1. The second one that took place on February 18 brought the exchange rate to N199 to $1.

“These two developments brought a lot of confusion into the oil sector. Marketers were not sure of the actual delivery cost. We had to draw a new template as advised by the  CBN. The delay we have now is caused by the November devaluation.

“But the reality now is that the policy is clear. The Minister of Finance, PPPRA and other agencies are working closely to ensure that outstanding bills are paid. And that one had been done now.

“Yesterday, we got an approval from the Budget Office for payment of all outstanding bills. We have adjusted the template now. We have to put the exchange rate at the interbank rate. Now, we have a direction and so, there is no cause for alarm as the scarcity will fizzle out by the coming weekend.”


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