•Senate summons minister as northern youths call for Buhari’s resignation
•Political party leaders tackle APC
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Fred Itua, Abuja and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
There appears to be more trouble for Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu over his comments that the lingering fuel scarcity across the country may linger till May.
The minister also said he was not a magician to make fuel queues at filling stations disappear overnight.
These comments did not sit well with former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who lambasted Kachikwu at the weekend.
On Monday, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) joined the fray.
The committee has summoned the minister to appear before it to explain efforts put in place by government to end the fuel crisis raging across the country.
Acting chairman of the committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, who led lawmakers on a tour of fuel stations in Abuja, yesterday, said Senate could no longer sit back and watch Nigerians suffer. Kachikwu is scheduled to appear before the committee today.
The committee members, who visited over five fuel stations before addressing newsmen, decried the unnecessary hardship occasioned by the scarcity and vowed to do everything within their powers to compel the Federal Government to end the scarcity.
Meanwhile, the fuel crisis has assumed a worrisome dimension in the nation’s capital, as most stations visited were without products. The few available ones dispensing fuel were in most instances, unable to control the crowd.
At ConOil, located opposite the NNPC Towers, the queue was more than a kilometre long. Roads leading to the ever-busy route were blocked by vehicles trying to beat the line. The intervention of Police officers, in some instances, were unsuccessful.
In all the fuel stations visited, the lamentations were the same. Some drivers told Daily Sun that they spend the night at the fuel stations, just to fill up their fuel tanks.
At the parallel market, a litre of fuel is selling for over N200. Dealers are selling 10 litres for N2,500. At the suburbs of Abuja, regular fuel stations are selling a litre between N150 to N180 and they have long queues of vehicles.
Meanwhile, Tinubu’s comments have continued to polarise the ruling party. While some are calling for the minister’s resignation, others are demanding an apology from the national leader.
In his own reaction, National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Dr Victor Oye admitted that Kachikwu’s statement was in bad taste but argued that it was not enough to call for his resignation.
He said divergent reactions to the issue by APC chieftains has shown that the party was not working together. The APGA boss counselled APC to work as a team if it was interested in delivering its campaign promises.
Oye said: “APC has shown that it is not working as a team. APC government cannot achieve anything if refuses to work as a team.
“It is baseless calling for the minister’s resignation; It has not gotten to that point.”
Arguing in similar fashion, National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim implored stakeholders to find a solution to the lingering fuel scarcity.
Yinka Odumakin an activisit, criticised APC leaders for taking divergent positions on the matter. He claimed that by speaking in discordant tunes, APC was confirming predictions by some people that the party will soon pack up.
In Kaduna, some Northern youths, under the auspices of Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) have demanded the immediate resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari as petroleum minister to end the persistent fuel crisis in the country.
In a statement signed by its President, Isah Abubakar, the NYCN said: “Mr. President should resign as Petroleum Minister and appoint a substantive minister for effective service delivery. President Buhari should appoint a Group Managing Director for NNPC and relieve the minister of state for petroleum resources of double appointment.
“We realise that since Mr. President pronouncement of himself as substantive minister of Petroleum Resources, the situation and availability of petroleum products, especially that of premium motor spirit (PMS) in the market has become difficult.
“This is indicates failure on the part of Mr President as the minister of Petroleum resources and Kachikwu as minister of state and GMD of NNPC.
“We demand that Mr. President hire a competent hand to handle the ministry and appoint a new GMD for NNPC as this will enable effectiveness and productivity in the ministry and agency.”
Abubakar threatened massive protest if the situation persist beyond reasonable time.
Back to Abuja, some residents of the FCT have urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts to end the lingering fuel scarcity in the country and turn around the economy.
This was the view of many who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Abaji on Monday.
Mr Felix Wodi, who resides at Abaji, FCT, said: “I did not enjoy this Easter at all because I have been on queue at petrol station for hours and there has been no power supply for more than a week in my area.
Mr Saleh Abu, a resident of Kwali, also in the FCT, said he had been on queue for a while to buy petrol in his bike, saying he was not happy with the present situation in the country.
The situation at Gwagwalada was not different as many motorists were seen at ASO filling station waiting for a petrol tanker to discharge fuel.