Nigerians should stop complaining about fuel scarcity and suffer the pains of it because the scarcity was caused by their demand for transparency in the petroleum sector, the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has said.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who said this on Wednesday in Abuja while addressing journalists, said the demands by Nigerians for transparency and accountability coupled with the government’s determination to ensure same was the cause of the sufferings.
“We cannot eat our cakes and have it. We cannot keep calling out for transparency and accountability and pointing at corruption if we are not prepared to bear some of the hardship that will obviously come when you are trying to clean up a sector,” the minister said.
Mrs. Madueke was, however, not done with blaming Nigerians for the fuel scarcity, she also claimed that the government has already reduced the scarcity being witnessed.
“The verifications were being done; payments could not be made by Finance and I think they have said that severally, but the verifications have been done; payments are now being made and like I said the queues have actually begun to go down,” she said.
In Abuja where Mrs. Madueke claims the scarcity has reduced and where she is based as minister, motorists still spend several hours on petrol queues which sometimes are over 200m long; with many petrol stations not even selling the product. Black market operators can be seen selling the product at over 100 per cent the approved price with their transparent jerry-cans everywhere in the Nigerian capital.
The minister however gave Nigerians some hope as she said the scarcity should disappear before the festive period.
She said already the ministry had released petroleum products from its strategic reserve to reduce shortages.
“We too, on NNPC side we have pushed out a lot of our strategic reserve in a bid to ensure that people are not overtly put out in terms of fuel scarcity. And if not for this recent union issue I think it would have been completely alleviated, but I am sure that over the next few days it will die down completely.
“We are doing everything we can on ground to ensure that this Christmas will be like last Christmas, as well,” she said.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke attributed shortages being experienced in almost all parts of the country to stringent measures being taken by the Federal Ministry of Finance in the payment of subsidy claims.
She assured that only genuine subsidy claims by marketers would be entertained in line with the transparency and accountability policy of the government.
“Initially, the queues came out of the whole fuel subsidy issue and the fact of course that verifications of certain amounts and certain marketers’ claims were being made very stringently and this had to be done.
The minister also assured that the NNPC would continue to ensure a level playing field for all interested marketers and operators in the oil and gas sector of the economy.