Fuel Scarcity: Jonathan wades in, directs Petroleum Minister to meet oil workers

President Goodluck Jonathan waded into Nigeria’s resurging fuel crisis Friday, directing the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to immediately convene a meeting with striking oil workers.

The meeting which began in the afternoon was ongoing at the presidential villa as of 7pm Friday.

A presidency source told PREMIUM TIMES they hoped a “critical decision” will be taken over the fuel crisis that began Wednesday.

The meeting came as scarcity of fuel bit harder across the country as oil workers’ industrial action entered its fifth day.

PREMIUM TIMES understands the president had directed Mrs. Alison-Madueke to immediately dialogue with the leaders of the two main oil workers unions, the Petroleum and National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, over their grievances.

An official said Mr. Jonathan directed the minister to do all within her powers to ensure that the crisis did not extend beyond this weekend.

Oil workers downed tools Monday over the management of their pensions.

The unions are also demanding that the government take more seriously the issue of Turn Around Maintenance of Nigeria’s four refineries.

Other demands of the unions include the need for increased allocation of crude oil for local refining to help reduce the growing reliance on importation of petroleum products for domestic consumption.

Crude oil allocation for local refining has steadily declined over the years largely over accountability issues.

According to workers, if the current arrangement persists, the NNPC would gradually be rendered redundant, particularly concerning its role as the national oil company in the industry.

Fuel scarcity which started biting harder on Thursday in major cities, including Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, worsened as motorists lined on long queues for several hours to buy fuel for the weekend.

The NNPC mega filling station located in the Central Business District in Abuja witnessed one of the longest queues yet.

Few other filling stations belonging to the major and independent petroleum products marketers in the city, which had fuel, also had long queues.

To ensure that they did not run out of stock soon, most petrol stations resorted to rationing quantities sold to each motorist by limited sale to only N2, 000 or 10 litres to each customer.

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