“Frankly, it is not a supply issue, as you can also confirm. So it’s not from us. But you know When you have an arbitrage opportunity, people will tend to take advantage of it. These are some of the fallouts of the subsidy regime,” Sylva said.
“If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja, in most places, only in the Abuja, metropolis, you continue to have these queues. So is it that there is less applied to Abuja, than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices.
“And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices, but within Abuja, because of the watchful eye of the federal government, they cannot sell at those prices. So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.
“But that actually is a problem it’s not a supply problem, the country is well supplied as it is. NNPC has a very good supply. So it is not a problem for us, but it is the marketers. But we are engaging the marketers and will continue to engage them. In fact, before now NATO said, Oh, because diesel prices were now going up. And of course, you know that diesel is deregulated already.”
Although he promised continued talks with them, the minister does not guarantee that the fuel queues will dissipate any time soon.
Also to appear before the lawmakers are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, the Managing Director of the Pipelines Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Mallam Isiyaku Abdullahi as well as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Peter Akpatason, represented the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the hearing.
He said the committee members were disappointed that such critical stakeholders would choose to be absent, considering how important it is to ascertain the daily consumption to see if it corresponds with the subsidy payments.
The Speaker also expressed his worry that their absence could be seen as an attempt to frustrate the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has explained why it cannot remove subsidies on the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, at this time.
Minister of Communication and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke during an exclusive interview with Reuters in London, said many other nations were introducing measures to help citizens cope with high oil energy prices, hence Africa’s most populous country could not be an exception.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter but still has to import almost all its fuel needs due to a lack of refining capacity. The Federal Government shelved plans to abolish fuel subsidies earlier this year, a move that raised concerns with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Groups of supporters have presented the All Progressives Congress’ nomination and expression of interest forms to Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.
The duo become the latest APC members who have had the N100m forms purchased on their behalf by supporters.
Governor Ayade had in late April declared to run for President, saying he has received approval from President Muhammadu Buhari.
When asked if companies found culpable will be blacklisted, Sylva responded that the government is not in a rush to mete out any measures until the actual cause has been decoded.
Speaking concerning Nigerians whose cars were damaged after buying the fuel, the former governor said their situation will be put into consideration.
“We know that some people’s vehicles must have been damaged; that is also going to the taken into consideration in dealing with the situation,” Sylvia explained.
His comments come hours after the Federal said it has identified and subsequently dealt with what may have caused panic buying of petrol in some parts of Lagos and Abuja.
Responding to the resurgence of fuel queues in Lagos and Abuja, the CEO of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency, Mr. Farouk Ahmed said methanol quantity above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in a supply chain, which has since been isolated.
He explained that, while the quality control agencies of the government have swung into the action, NNPC Limited and oil marketers have been directed to ensure a robust supply of petroleum products.
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had in November last year hinted that Nigeria would effect the complete removal of fuel subsidy in June 2022 and replace them with a N5000-a-month transportation grant to the poorest Nigerians.
Amid mixed reactions over the issue, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, last Tuesday said President Buhari never directed the removal of fuel subsidy.
NOTE: Watch Newsnight on Channels TV at 9pm on Monday.
Sylva, on his part, explained that the President’s position in opposing fuel subsidy was predicated on its effect on citizens at the bottom of the pyramid.
He also identified some of the options the authorities were considering regarding the issue.
“We are working out the processes,” said the minister. “Of course, we all know that it is a desirable policy direction. Of course, we know that it will have some impacts on the people and that is why we are trying to work out some of those things.
“Until those details are worked out properly with (the organised) labour, and with all the stakeholders in the sector, we will not remove the subsidy. At this moment, it is not on our plate, I can tell you that.
“This is something that needs to be worked out between the Federal Government and the states because this is a federation issue. We are working with the governors to see how we can continue with this policy direction of subsidising fuel for the foreseeable future.”
The Federal Government is considering autogas as an alternative to the Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.
This is according to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight amid plans by the government to remove subsidy on petrol.
He explained that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Economic Council, is also leading an effort in collaboration with state governors to discuss the government’s plans to unveil palliatives to the people.
“So we have to sit back together to now thinking about the process that can have the least effect on the people. That is why we are thinking of a lot of options like giving them an alternative fuel which will be cheaper and that is why we are looking at autogas,” the Minister said.
“We believe that will give an alternative so that if they find PMS too expensive, then they can have an alternative. Of course, we are looking at the impact it would have on their personal income and expenditure.
“The Vice President is also leading an effort, discussing palliatives to the people. All those are the things we are discussing. We need to bring everything together before we can now come out and say look this is the package we have and this is the policy direction towards subsidy removal.”
The Federal Government had in December 2022 rolled out an autogas programme called the National Gas Expansion Programme.
The programme involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars, generators from petrol to gas. It is aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms.
After the launch, the government said that vehicle owners in the country will pay N250,000 to convert their cars to autogas.
Justice Derefaka, Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation to Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, had explained that vehicle owners will have different payment plans to covert their cars to autogas.
“The cost varies,” Derefaka said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. “So, in terms of cost implication, it depends on the cylinder of the vehicle and of course, for a typical SUV cylinder, it is a bit higher but on the average, it is around N200,000 to N250,000 and this is for a four-cylinder vehicle but it becomes a little bit higher for a six-cylinder SUV vehicle.”
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware and concerned about the hike in the price of gas and is promising action to ameliorate the situation.
He said this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President in his office where he presented CEOs of two new agencies: the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC) and the Nigerian Downstream and Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) at the statehouse.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has inaugurated the Steering Committee for the Implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.
The inauguration ceremony held on Thursday in Abuja, a day after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the constitution of the committee with a directive to immediately commence the implementation of the PIA.
“To get us started on this all-important assignment, I hereby inaugurate the Steering Committee, as well as the Implementation Working Group/Coordinating Secretariat, and wish us all success in our collective quest to change the face of the Nigerian petroleum industry, to position it as a proactive catalyst for spurring sustainable economic growth of our beloved country,” the minister told members of the committee.
“Given the timeline set by Mr President and the urgency of the implementation requirement, there is no gainsaying in the fact that total commitment to this assignment is a critical success factor.
“Undoubtedly, members of the steering committee possess the capacity to contribute to the transformation of the petroleum industry, and unlock the potentials that are replete in the entire value chain.”
Sylva urged the committee members to live up to their responsibility, saying a lot was expected of them from Nigerians and foreign stakeholders.
He stressed the need to do all that it takes to deliver on the assignment, in a manner that best achieves the collective vision for bringing the anticipated gains to the country.
According to the minister, the implementation working group/coordinating secretariat has the onerous task of developing the briefs that will be presented to the committee for consideration and approval.
He explained that the briefs would cover all the relevant subject matters contemplated by the law, including the design of the institutions, personnel movements, development of procedures and processes for the institutions, model contracts and regulations, and generally providing legal advice on implementation matters.
Sylva went on to reveal that the implementation working group/coordinating secretariat has been organised into four workstreams, to position the committee to get quality briefs.
He listed the workstreams to include legal, coordination and planning, communications and stakeholder management, as well as administration and finance.
“Each of these workstreams has distinct mandates and expected outcomes which will be presented to the steering committee for consideration and possible approval,” the minister said.
While approving the constitution of the committee, President Buhari had also directed that it has 12 months for the assignment.
He had decried that the lack of political will has hampered the growth of the industry, saying this has led to a loss of about $50 billion for the country in the last 10 years.
A lawyer, Olufemi Lijadu, is the External Legal Adviser, while the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) will serve as Head of the Coordinating Secretariat and the Implementation Working Group.
Other members include Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr Sani Gwarzo; and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.
Others are Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami; President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Natural Resources, Dr Nuhu Habib; as well as representatives of the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva has assured that no job will be lost in the nation’s petroleum sector following the signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday signed the bill, thus providing a legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and related matters.
Although there were fears in some quarters over the fate of workers in the petroleum sector, the minister says the move will instead create more jobs.
“We have already made provisions in the law to ensure that no job is lost in the oil industry as a result of the PIA,” the Minister said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday.
“So, no job will be lost as a result of the Petroleum Industry Act. All jobs in the petroleum industry will be intact.
“That was already taken into account, we discussed with labour extensively in the process of drafting the bill.”