Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has secured the commitment of stakeholders in the oil industry for a hitch free celebrations this Christmas season and beyond.
The commitment was secured at a stakeholders meeting Monday, chaired by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, on supplies of petroleum products during the Yuletide season, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The stakeholders cut across government, security agencies, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), National President of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
Aside ensuring that there will be enough supply of the petroleum products during the Yuletide season and beyond, it also secured the commitment of security agencies to stall products diversion, security of life and property during the period as well as conducive environment for operators to operate.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC, Mele Kyari said there are enough supplies for the celebration period.
He said: “We are here today to take stock of our readiness for the festive period, particularly in terms of supplies and distribution of petroleum products across the country, so that this festive period will be enjoyed by Nigerians without any hitch, particularly the Christmas and New Year.
“We are very sure today that we have very robust supply plan not just for Christmas but beyond. We are assuring Nigerians that the NNPC has made adequate arrangements for adequate supply of petroleum products. If there are any issue, we have come together with other agencies of government to ensure those issues are resolved, to ensure Nigerians have a very Merry Christmas this year.”
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on his part said his ministry is collaborating with contractors to provide palliatives on the routes that petroleum products will be ferried through.
According to him, “the Ministry of Works and Housing has a supporting role to play here, while construction work is going on, on some of the routes used for moving cargo, we have met with our contractors and directed them to provide some palliative measures to ease the movement of trucks and tankers. Some of these routes include Benin-Auchi-Okene, Warri-Sapele-Benin, Ilorin-Jaba road, Calabar-Itu road and other roads.
“This is essentially to say we are giving everybody the support we can to ease the problem of moving fuel during the period.”
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, on his part said the level of security has increased to ensure the products are not deviated leading to scarcity.
He said: “December is a festive period, a period where Nigerians in the diaspora will be coming to their homeland with their families. It is expected that every Nigerian is provided with adequate security of his life and property. For that reason, we have heightened the level of security within this period, not only the police but other security agencies are working together to ensure that the Christmas and even the new year is celebrated without any criminal incidents. And at the same time Nigerians will have to move about freely with the availability of petroleum. And for that reason the NNPC and the petroleum transport owners association, NUPENG, and others have come together to work with us to make sure that products are moved freely to cover the whole country without any bridge. In that area, we have again increased the level of security, dedicated some officers to make sure that products are moved freely without any attempt to divert products from where they are suppose to go.
“We have gotten commitment also from tanker drivers that we will work seriously with their drivers to make sure that nobody incites them or motivates them to divert products from where they are supposed to go.
“So, we are assuring Nigerians that this Christmas will be crime free, petroleum products will be available to everybody and it will move from one part of the country to the other.”
Representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Tariworio Dick, Chief of Training and Operations, Naval headquarters, also assured that they will stall any attempt to vandalize the pipelines.
He said: “For the Navy, we have been involved in providing security in the Atlas Cove, mostly pipelines. We will ensure that all hands are on deck to ensure that there are no infringements on the pipelines. For clearance of vessels, we are in close collaboration with the NNPC so that the vessels are cleared as soon as they come in to discharge. Actually, we are going to prioritise, provide armed guard to move from Lagos to Port Harcourt and Calabar as we get the request from NNPC.”
Representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Major General FO Omoiqui, Director of Operations, Nigeria Army, said: “For the Nigerian Army, as always we are ready to support the Nigerian police, the NNPC and the Civil Defence in ensuring that the petroleum products are freely supplied to all parts of the country this Yuletide season.”
Representative of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Comptroller General, Deputy Commandant General Operations, Hillary Madu, assured that “apart from our core mandate of protecting critical national assets and infrastructure, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in synergy with our big brothers and other security agencies, will ensure our staff shun corruption on the road to ensure that fuel supply gets to their destination. There shouldn’t be any collaboration with thieves and this festive period will be one of the best as critical national assets including protection of pipelines and ensuring that illegal products are not ferried across the country will be maintained by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).”
Dr Kassim Ibrahim Bataiya, National President of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), said: “NARTO as a critical stakeholder in the supply and distribution value chain is committed to support the NNPC and the government in ensuring availability of petroleum products from now till the end of next year. We are committed and we have all our trucks available and ready for lifting petroleum products from now till the end of next year, most especially now that we have the assurance of the GMD that there is availability of products in all the depots, from the IGP that our roads will be secured and the environment conducive for us to operate.
“So, we are committed to supporting the government and, Isha Allah, there will be no scarcity of petroleum this year.”
The National Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Akanni Oladiti, on his part said “I want Nigerians to be rest assured that during this coming holiday and beyond, so far as the main operator of the industry, the NNPC, has assured that the products will be available and will continue to be available, we will take the products to all the four corners of Nigeria. There will not be scarcity or whatever. We want Nigeria to be good, and we pray for the leadership of this country that God will grant them good health and prosperity.