Fuel scarcity has continued to bite in Abuja and other cities of the federation with no hope of normalcy in sight. In the past two months, motorists in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and some major towns in the country have been living with the gruelling experience of spending long hours on queues to purchase Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from few filling stations that have the product, and are willing to sell to motorists.
The situation is also worse in some states where the product is not sold at the approved pump price of N87 per litre as they are sold for as high as N150. All these, coupled with sharp practices by petrol attendants, have put untold hardship on Nigerians.
Though Federal Government has decried the persistent fuel scarcity in some parts of the country, especially in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it on Wednesday disclosed that oil marketers would be paid N156billion subsidy arrears.
Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told journalists after opening the 20th Conference of Directors-General of Customs of the World Customs Organisation in Abuja, that despite the revenue challenges facing the current administration, it had not compromised on the payment of fuel subsidy to oil marketers.
The minister also sympathised with Nigerians over their harrowing experience at filling stations, saying that government was doing everything possible to end the scarcity soon.
She explained that the government had in December 2014 paid N350billion to oil marketers, adding that an additional N3billion in foreign exchange differentials had been released.
This may be good news but government should consider long term solutions and not quick fixes that would return the situation in no distant time.
There is the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB that has been suppressed at the National Assembly. The non-passage of the PIB and the opposition to deregulation are some of the serious issues that must be considered in the search for enduring and flourishing downstream sector.
The PIB, which would have ensured deregulation of the oil and gas sector, seeks to overhaul the industry, as well as increase the output from the sector, has not shown any sign that it would be passed.
The delay has equally taken a toll on the nation’s economy, as it has denied the country of some vital investment needed to cushion the effect of the dip in the prices of petroleum products, globally. It is also blamed for the current fuel scarcity, which has become a recurring issue in Nigeria’s recent history.
Also, the delay in the payment of marketers and the disconnect created by the devaluation of the Naira and the inability of banks to provide marketers the enabling window to import fuel, should be checked with a view to instilling quick and prompt payments where necessary.
Every loophole that would cause Nigerians untold hardship in the face of abundant God-given resources should be avoided and checked in good time. Enough is enough!

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