President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to deal with persons who he said are responsible for the current fuel scarcity.
Officials of the current administration have repeatedly blamed petrol marketers for the fuel scarcity that has ravaged the country for about a month.
Speaking in his New Year broadcast to Nigerians, Mr. Buhari said he was “saddened” by the fuel scarcity.
“Some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.
“I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again,” he said.
Mr Buhari said he was saddened by the hardship Nigerians were put through as they spent a better part of the Christmas and New Year holiday in long queues at filling stations trying to buy the scarce product.
The product is being sold for as high as N250 per litre in many filling stations across the country instead of the official control price of N145 per litre.
“Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.
“The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.
“Such unpatriotism will not divert the administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity,” he said.
Mr. Buhari also a spent better part of his speech describing his administration’s plan to build rail and road networks across the country. He explained that the improved road and rail network will help the country to “achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
He said work is already on-going in the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.
According to the president, the rail line, which is projected to reach Ibadan from Lagos at the end of 2019, will carry two million people and five million tons of cargo yearly.
Similarly, he said work will commence on the Kano–Kaduna segment of the rail line this year and will be completed at the end of 2019.
He added that the two segments of the rail line will be joined by end of 2021, linking the South-North trading route.
He said he has directed that negotiation for the construction of the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri line, which will transverse through Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu, be completed by the first part of the year.
Other rail projects the president spoke about include the Abuja to Itakpe line which will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport in the town.
He said the already functional Abuja– Kaduna rail will be boosted by the addition of more rolling stock on Thursday.
“Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
“Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.
“With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98 per cent completion, as at 64 per cent completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.
“This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system.
“Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change,” he said.