By Festus Chukwuma
Many Nigerians are shockingly ill-informed about the cause of the unfortunate scarcity of petrol that has been bedevilling the country for some time now.
Because of a poor understanding of what is going on; or for sheer mischief, Nigerians look for and find a scapegoat in the NNPC Ltd and its leadership under Mele Kyari. If only they know the dynamics that combine to produce these fuel queues, they will be saluting Mr Kyari and the NNPC under his leadership, instead of maligning him.
Kyari, who is without any doubt one of the most patriotic, hardworking and intelligent Nigerians around, works 24/7 to make sure that despite daunting challenges, PMS, or petrol, is available in Nigeria daily. On average, the NNPC evacuates 60 million litres daily, sells it to marketers at a price lower than the market value and still manages to pay taxes and royalties to the FG, which the government (federal, state and local) utilizes to run the country.
Many people are probably not aware that almost the whole of our neighbours is dependent on Nigeria for their petrol supply. In fact, according to very reliable sources, some of our neghbours have not imported PMS into their country for the past year. They somehow find a way to survive on the 60 million litres that the NNPC Ltd evacuates daily into the Nigerian market. Perhaps you may ask: Why are those countries not importing PMS? The answer is simple: Because they cannot afford it, they simply do not have the foreign exchange to buy the petrol at the current market price.
But Mr Mele Kyari has the mandate and the constitutional responsibility to ensure that Nigeria is kept wet with petrol no matter where and how he gets it. And that is what the man has been doing since he became GMD and later GCEO of NNPC over three years ago. How he manages to do that, people don’t know and don’t care.
Similarly, the issue of why scarcity persists despite Kyari’s and the NNPC’s efforts is another story altogether, because so many factors are involved. For example, does Nigeria consume 60 million litres every day? How does our petrol find its way to places as far away as CAR, Sudan etc? The answer to this is also simple: Subsidy. Nigeria sells petrol at the lowest price in the whole of West Africa. It’s up to you to work out the rest of the answers. What Nigerians should be doing is offering solutions on how the problem can be tackled. These are the questions Nigerians should be asking and coming together to solve, and not abusing Mr Kyari, without whose effort, we will not even see the product, not to talk of queuing to buy it. That is when Nigerians will see real hell.
As for those that are taking undue advantage of the situation to launch a political attack on the government, they should be mindful of their duties to their country. Abusing people like Mele Kyari is unjust and a very terrible display of lack of concise. The man works very hard for his country. If we fail to appreciate him, we might end up with ruthless individuals that work only for themselves and will not care what happens to the country.
Festus Chukwuma writes from Imo State.