Unic Press UK: Former presidential candidate, Martin Onovo, says the current acute scarcity of fuel (Premium Motor Spirit) in most regions of Nigeria is one of the consequences of maladministration, widespread corruption and obvious ineffectiveness of the current administration. He spoke with Unic Press UK staff on Wednesday, the 27th December 2017.
Unic staff: What’s your view on the acute scarcity of fuel across the country?
Martin Onovo: Given the primary purpose of government and the duties of the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the buck stops with the Federal Government. So, the primary source of the problem is never in doubt. The main issue is that this APC-led government is ineffective and promotes monumental corruption. The All Progressive Congress (APC) is very corrupt.
Unic staff: Why is it that Nigeria, which was named the 2016 largest oil producer in Africa in The World Factbook of the Central Intelligence Agency, has been unable to stabilize the supply of fuel to consumers?
Martin Onovo: NNPC is a very corrupt corporation. And talking about corruption in the NNPC brings to the fore the recent scandal – the gross violation of due process in awarding $25 billion contracts. There are indeed several other cases that buttress the point that there is massive corruption in the NNPC. Also, the corporation has been ineffective and drained by bureaucratic bottleneck. The Federal Government overseeing the NNPC is known for its lethargic approach to every problem, lax in handling even very sensitive or serious problems. Whenever this APC-led government eventually responds to a serious problem, it often ends up complicating issues and worsening the situation over time. To promote corruption, the four refineries in the country are deliberately set up in a way that does not restore their optimal refining capacity. Therein lies the bane of supplying Premium Motor Spirit to the populace. This government is obviously very ineffective.
Unic staff: What’s the way forward, and how can this serious problem – frequent scarcity of fuel – be solved?
Martin Onovo: The Federal Government and the NNPC should take this problem seriously. They must acknowledge their many avoidable errors and tackle the problem. This APC-led government should stop blaming the private importers, stop blaming independent marketers of petroleum products, and stop childishly saying that the scarcity is the result of ‘panic buying’ by the populace. NNPC claims that it has enough stock of Premium Motor Spirit, yet most of the NNPC mega petrol stations were not selling the product when our agents and I checked a few days to Christmas. I am aware that in Lagos, Enugu, Edo, and several other States in the country, the NNPC petrol stations had no stock of petrol for sale. The lies of this government is clear to children, much less for an adult. Of course, the solution remains simple: The Federal Government of Nigeria should get the four refineries in the country to optimal refining capacity to eschew dependence on imported petroleum products; and ensure seamless distribution of petroleum products across the country.
Chief Martin Onovo, a public figure and eminent consulting engineer and energy expert. He was the 2015 Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP)