The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has blamed the lingering petrol scarcity in the country on players in the downstream sector and the federal government.
PENGASSAN, in a communique issued on Tuesday at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of PENGASSAN in Abuja, said the persistent petrol shortages has become a source of pain to the people.
“The current shortages are being perpetuated by players in the downstream sector in order to hike the price far above the government approved threshold,” it said. “NEC submits that it is an added problem when non-state actors begin to determine the price of a litre of fuel far above the rate pegged by government in the current subsidy regime.”
The union said: “It is more disturbing that the government is equally demonstrating a high level of culpability in the harmful situation by its silence and unwillingness to publicly address the harrowing experiences of Nigerians in the current situation.
“No concerned and responsive government will bury its head in the sands like the proverbial ostrich while the citizens are being brutally exploited.”
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It urged various security agencies, especially the men of Nigerian Customs and Immigration, to stop the high rate of smuggling of the product across the West African countries.
“NEC requests that the various depots and other storage facilities, especially those owned and operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, be upgraded and made accessible to all operators to lift the product,” it said.
The union demanded an immediate end to “the avoidable, unnecessary, crippling and pain-inducing fuel shortages and unapproved price hikes” in the country.
“No excuse is good enough to cripple the country. If there are challenges, they should be fixed; we have a government in power to fix challenges not to make excuses,” it said.
PENGASSAN expressed its willingness to collaborate with the Federal Government and assist in all ways possible to overcome the country’s present challenges, but cautioned it not to take the people for granted as “it seems to be manifestly doing on various crucial national issues”.
On oil theft, it demanded that all those arrested in connection with this economic sabotage should be prosecuted and, if found guilty, be made to face the consequences.
“NEC urges the government to sustain the current effort in restoring the vandalised pipeline and in increasing the nation’s crude oil production, while the Investigative Panel must carry out a thorough work that will end all forms of criminality in the sector,” the union said.