*** As FEC approves N117bn for Oloibiri Research Centre
By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
As Nigerians continue to groan under the heavy weight of unavailability of the petroleum products, the Federal Government on Wednesday said marketers who engage in racketeering activities are responsible for the rising cost and scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in the country.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, revealed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister said although the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has ensured the supply of fuel nationwide, challenges persist at distribution points.
Sylva explained that the ministry had issued directives to end racketeering which has led to soaring fuel prices. But those directives have fallen on deaf ears, even as supply bottlenecks persist.
Asked why the government regulatory agencies have failed to sanction offenders, the Petroleum Minister said we are in democracy hence, the agencies are going about clamping down on offenders in a professional way.
The Minister, therefore, once again, directed the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to sanction erring filling stations.
Prompt News reports that in January 2023, the FG officially increased the pump price of petrol to N185 per litre, from N170 per litre.
However, pump price of petrol has spiralled out of the hands of FG as the product is being sold for as high as N500 per litre in some states of the federation.
Asked why the scarcity has persisted despite promises by the government to end it, Sylva who insisted that PMS is now available nationwide, blamed the scarcity on factors outside the control of his Ministry.
However, he said the distribution challenge would not hinder the February 25 and March 11 election.
Sylva said the NNPCL has assured the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that petroleum products will be available for the exercise.
Meanwhile FEC has approved N117bn for the construction of the Oloibiri Oil and Gas Museum and Research Center in Bayelsa State.
The contract which is warded to Messrs Julius Berger Plc, is expected to be completed in 30 months.
This comes six decades after oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the oil-rich region.