Kyari hits another queue-less Yuletide as motorists encounter zero fuel scarcity across Nigeria


By Tari Ebipade

Seated for a quick bite inside one of the numerous eateries at Ore, a boisterous Ondo State transit point between the South West and both South-South and South East, Okezie could not help reflecting on the grueling experience he had while attempting to take a trip to his hometown in Enugu some years back. In the end, he was unable to make the journey, thanks in no small measure to his inability to source fuel for his car, not even after staying in a queue for hours.

It didn’t matter that he had enough money to get as much fuel as he wanted. Sadly, he had to abort the planned travel although it was the only time he could afford to visit his aged parents back home in Enugu.

“Guys, you can’t imagine how I felt a few minutes ago when I drove into that fuel station and had my car topped up with ease. I mean, I could not travel last time as I am doing right now because I could not find anywhere to buy petrol,” he told his other colleagues who were also travelling to the South East.

Okezie’s mood is not any different from numerous other Nigerians who were caught in the endless fuel queue in past yuletides.

Ejiro, a student of Delta State University, Abraka, who made her way from Warri to Lagos seamlessly last week, is one such Nigerian. Unable to join her parents and her other siblings in Lagos, she became inconsolable particularly as she also had to miss her visiting US-based elder sister some years back.

“I beg, I beg, I beg. Make una nor talk about wetin hapun that year. Don’t remind me, please,” she begged this writer who was attempting to review the chaotic fuel crisis that made it impossible for a lot of Nigerians to visit loved ones in the past due to the usual fuel scarcity during yuletide.

At the moment, Ejiro is all smiles as she talks about being with her family over the Yuletide.

“I didn’t have to think about how to get to Lagos because I’m here with my family. The good thing is fuel is everywhere now. We drove in and out of two fuel stations between Warri and Lagos. Unlike last year when there was none, it was done in a few minutes. I beg, no remind me of that year,” she signed off.

A visit to various intercity motor parks indicates that transporters and commuters who volunteered information are happy Nigerians no longer have to worry about queues at the fuel stations while making arrangements for their trips to their various destinations. From Enugu, through Onitsha, Asaba, Benin City, all the way to Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, etc, it has been the same blissful experience.

At the Nyanya motor park, FCT, for instance, commuters to or from Kaduna, Minna and other northern cities say they are grateful that government thought it wise enough to save them from last year’s harrowing experiences. Mrs Amina Lucas, an FCT-based civil servant, whose daughter schools in Minna, summed up the mood of other commuters. She told this writer that her daughter had to spend two extra days, almost without food, in Minna years back while trying to make her way to join other members of the family in Abuja. Amina, who was on her way to Kaduna to see her aged mother before returning to Abuja before Christmas, was full of encomiums for whoever (she doesn’t care who it is) made it possible to confine the chaotic yuletide fuel experience to the dust bin.

Indeed, Nigeria has taken a clean leap over and out of the perennial fuel queue challenge, thanks to the onerous efforts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, ably headed by the dogged and determined Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari.

It is also clear that with his adoption, planning and execution of a number of strategic policy decisions, Nigerians are now in for a fresh and relieving experiences in the months and years ahead.

The first sure sign is evident in the 2023 Yuletide which has so far recorded zero fuel queues in fuel stations across the country.

 Quietly, the NNPC GCEO seems to have found and applied the magic wand in this regard.

Kyari seems to have foretold the prevailing sanity in the supply and distribution of petrol during the yuletide while addressing Senate President Godswill Akpabio during a courtesy call.

The NNPC chief made the point that the era of queues at any of the country’s fuel stations was gone for good. His reasons were not just a fill-in-the-gaps rhetoric Nigerians seem to be familiar with. From the advantage of hindsight, it is clear that the assurance was rooted in sound planning propelled by vast experience in the inner workings of the downstream operations.

 No wonder, Sen. Akpabio, the country’s uncommon number three citizen, on that day, found before him a man with an uncommon solution to the perennial incidence of queue-laden fuel stations, one of the most enduring challenges Nigerians ever had to contend with.

Among others, Kyari assured Sen Akpabio that the NNPC Ltd had a very pragmatic and robust plan in place to supply petroleum products including the very highly demanded Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, better known as petrol, over the 2023 yuletide and beyond.

The high point of his assurance to the Senate President and Nigerians was that with the Christmas and New Year holidays pendulum already swinging in full force, there will be no queues at any fuel station in the country.

Remarkably too, Kyari made another uncommon disclosure during his visit to Sen. Akpabio. He revealed that NNPC Ltd has since become a profit-making public enterprise with the coming into effect of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. From being perpetually on a losing streak over the years, culminating in a $803bn loss in 2018, the company’s profitability margins rose significantly to a heartwarming profit position of N274 million in 2021.

Yet another high point to note is that it is currently aiming at a princely N2trn profit when the 2022 Audited Financial Statements (AFS), are released, capping the icing on its profit cake by being a dividend-paying outfit.

Among others, Kyari disclosed that NNPC Ltd is currently involved in the entire oil and gas business, including control of over 30% of the nation’s petroleum retail market. It is also currently collaborating with the country’s security services and third-party security outfits to halt crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, with a view to upping crude oil production while also investing in several gas and power projects in support of the country’s power generation and industrialization quests.

He assured that NNPC is making progress in its determination to revamp local refining of petroleum products and collaborate with indigenous refiners to ensure uninterrupted availability of petroleum products.

With all the above plans in place, there is hardly any doubt that Mele Kyari has truly evolved some well-thought-out and progressively robust plans to set the country’s petroleum sector on the right course.

For the time being, however, Nigerians need to celebrate him for posting another queue-less Yuletide season as part of the ultimate goal of making Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products within the shortest time possible.

Ebipade, a former service project manager at Shell, writes in from Lagos