Fuel queues, which surfaced last week in some parts of the country, grew worse in many cities in the South-West and the North on Saturday as a few filling stations dispensed petrol.
It was gathered that the scarcity became more pronounced in Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Kwara states on Saturday with some filling stations in Oyo State selling a litre of petrol for N160 instead of the official price of N145.
Three days after panic buying began in some areas in Ibadan, Oyo State, some independent marketers have adjusted the pump price from N143 to N145. The situation worsened in the Oke Ogun area of the state with some filling stations in Saki, especially Ajegunle, selling petrol at N160 per litre amidst long queues.
NE gathered that some filling stations dispensing fuel had manipulated their dispensing pumps to short-change customers even as some buyers were forced to bribe the attendants.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, motorists travelling towards Kwara State were seen buying fuel in jerry cans.
The situation in Akure, the Ondo State capital, was not different as many filling stations in the state were under lock and key while the few ones that had the product had long queues of vehicles.
One of our correspondents, who went round Akure, observed that most of the petrol stations, owned by the independent marketers, did not sell the product.
Responding to inquiry by newsmen, the Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, (Ore Depot), Mr Shina Amoo, said his members did not get the product from the depots.
Amoo said, “The product is not available at the depots; so, we have to buy from the private depots, which is more expensive. We bought for N139 per litre from the depots excluding other expenses we incur before landing at the petrol station. That is why we have the scarcity. We don’t have enough product in the country but I believe it will soon be resolved.”
In Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, most filling stations were closed while some persons were seen hawking petrol in jerry cans to motorists along the major streets in the town.
Following this development, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, appealed to fuel marketers in the state to desist from hoarding the product to create artificial scarcity.
Fayemi, in a statement by the Chief Press, Mr Yinka Oyebode, described hoarding of petroleum product as “an act of economic sabotage, which creates unnecessary hardship for the people and cripples businesses.”
The Department of Petroleum Resources said it had sealed 14 filling stations in Sokoto and Kebbi states for selling above the pump price and diversion of products.
Meanwhile, the Zonal Operations Controller of the DPR in charge of Sokoto and Kebbi states, Mr Muhammad Makera, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Sokoto that the stations were sealed between Wednesday and Thursday.
One of the marketers, who has filling stations in the South-West, told one of our correspondents that private depot owners had increased the ex-depot price from N133.28 to between N139 and N143 per litre.
The marketer, who pleaded anonymity, said private depots had to increase the price they sold to independent marketers because the product was not abundantly available.
He added that the situation might linger except the depots had enough quantity to sell to marketers.
But the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers urged Nigerians to stop panic buying of petrol, stressing that the product was sufficiently available.
They said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Lagos against the backdrop of the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country.
The association said six vessels of imported petrol, ordered by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, were currently discharging the product, assuring the people that the corporation had sufficient products.
The National President of IPMAN, Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, said, “Marketers are currently loading petrol in Makurdi, Kano, Enugu, Aba,Yola, Suleja, Kaduna, Ejigbo, Mosinmi, Ibadan and other depots across the country. The shortfall in distribution was due to slow pace of product importation and hitches at the jetty which had been addressed.”
The Chairman, Lagos Zone of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Mr Tayo Aboyeji, also corroborated the IPMAN’s president, saying “there is enough fuel. Nigerians should avoid panic buying.”
Pockets of fuel queues emerged in Lagos on Friday, a day after the NNPC restated its commitment to the sustenance of the seamless supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.
MOMAN said its members, including Total Nigeria Plc, Forte Oil Plc and Conoil Plc, would continue to receive petrol into their storage tanks from the NNPC vessels at berth and lined up for discharge throughout the weekend and would keep their stations replenished and operational.
The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr Clement Isong, in an interview on Saturday, said, “We are still loading out. One vessel is currently discharging to us; another one is about to berth and will start discharging tonight. As one is discharging, using one jetty, the other is discharging through another jetty. Another vessel will berth on Monday.
“Operationally, I think things are going well. We are receiving and loading out. We are working throughout the weekend to load out to our stations. If people engage in panic buying, then there is nothing that we can do; there are more cars than there are filling stations.”
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, had, on Thursday, stated that no fewer than 55 depots across the country were fully stocked with petrol.
In a statement released on its verified Twitter handle and signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, said, the corporation said it had over one billion litres of fuel in stock.