Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Imported bad fuel, queues at petrol stations-Abdulkadir Ahmed Ibrahim


……..A saboteurs’ spanner in Kyari’s NNPC reforms agenda?

By Abdulkadir Ahmed Ibrahim

For weeks running now, the Nigerian media landscape was partly dominated by the news of imported adulterated PMS (Premium Motor Spirits) popularly known as Petrol, and the return of the infamous queues of motorists at fueling stations nationwide.

Yes, bad fuel was imported and there were queues at fueling stations. These two novelties no doubt deserve prominence in the media but were maliciously published by the conventional and social media and discussed with contempt at marketplaces.

Malice was intended and the typical attitude of Nigerians (sometimes the media inclusive) to a topical issue, the buck was passed to the NNPC Ltd without hearing the official side on the saga. Even after the explanations, majority still chose not to believe or accept what the NNPC Ltd said.

Writing on “The Dangers of a Single Story in Our Society”, as published by News Daily Nigerian (, Gilamro Keban, said “For every narrative or conflicting issue, there are two sides to it. But often times, human beings tend to believe one side and make assumptions or conclusions.

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who used the title in 2009, believes that ‘’stories matter, but that all too often in our lives we operate from the perspective of hearing and knowing a single story — about a person, a situation, or perhaps a conflict. And that we operate from the perspective of the single story unconsciously.

“The risk of the single story, the one perspective, is that it can lead us to default assumptions, conclusions and decisions that may be incomplete, and may lead to misunderstanding. Single stories can have significant negative impact. They can rob people of their dignity”.

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These news stories and discourses as published (and broadcast) violate the Journalism Code of Ethics. The Code provides among others that “The public has a right to know. Factual, Accurate, Balance and Fair reporting is the ultimate objective of good journalism and the basis of earning public trust and confidence”. It also commands the journalist to separate facts from conjecture and comment.

The honesty in Malam Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC Ltd, influenced him to once more put into practice his principles of integrity and strategic objectives of Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE), to publicly disclose the discovery by the NNPC of the importation from Belgium, of the contaminated PMS on January 20, 2022, by some oil marketers and a consortium consisting of four companies as the culprits.

Sources in the Oil Industry said the NNPC handles all the imports through a consortium of local and foreign oil firms in a ‘Crude-for-fuel’ contracts, also known as Direct Sale, Direct Purchase (DSDP).

In the current imbroglio, NNPC gave good Crude Oil but was supplied Bad Fuel in return. What is this if not a breach of agreement that can translate to hindering somebody’s efforts to achieve better results? Call it sabotage if you like.

Mele Kyari told the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) that the marketing agents who brought in the adulterated fuel have refused to bear the cost of the fuel or take any liability.

Kyari said the agents probably didn’t know what they brought contained methanol and that methanol originated from the loading terminal. It is good to put this in perspective so that Nigerians are aware that what they (partners) are saying is that they have no liability”. “But it is nowhere sustainable because we have filed liquidated damages which they can pass on until it gets to originating depot” the CEO of NNPC Ltd further told the Committee.

Next to follow was Scarcity of Petrol at Fueling Stations. Kyari explained that the shortage was caused by the quarantine of the adulterated fuel. “Once you have this situation and you withdraw volumes in the market, you will have supply disruption”.

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To assuage any possible negative effect of the interval in the supply chain, the NNPC received 2.1 billion litres of PMS which were distributed nationwide to restore normalcy and predicted that the lingering fuel crisis would disappear within a week. True talk as the situation started to ease as shorter lines were observed at filling stations that very week.

In the same vein, the Federal Government joined the NNPC Ltd and sympathized with Nigerians over the unforeseen hardship occasioned by scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and called for patience in finding lasting solutions to the problem.  Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, made the appeal in a statement by his Senior Adviser (Media & Communications), Horatius Egua. He appreciated the NNPC for showing so much concern to the plight of Nigerians by coming forward with an apology.

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“The Nigerian people deserve the best and the government is determined to set the country on the right path of petroleum products availability and sustainability,” Sylva said. This, he said, was demonstrated in the award of the contracts for the rehabilitation of all our refineries and the acquisition of stake in the Dangote Refinery.

Some key stakeholders in the socio-economic sectors of the country were suspicious of foul play in the drama. The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry noted that Nigerians had trusted that there was a fuel importation system that could not be compromised and suggested for the removal of fuel subsidy and to have our domestic refineries in operation for local consumption and export.

Another major critical partner in the oil and gas industry, the Oil and Gas Accountability and Probity Forum (OGAPF) in a statement signed by the National Chairman, Comrade Timi Douglas, commended the Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari and his management team for the swift manner they handled the imported methanol blended petrol from Belgium by some companies.

As at the time of writing this analysis, it was reported that, Security agencies were investigating the importation of the bad fuel but some filling stations were still under lock while the few selling petrol had queues, despite the desperate efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to bring the situation under control. These include the 24-hour operations by all NNPC Depots and Retail Outlets that commenced two weeks ago and a directive to the retail outlets of all major marketers to do the same and ensure that more motorists were attended to daily.

Remember, the contaminated imported petrol was only about 200 million liters that was immediately quarantined after the discovery and the volumes in the market were withdrawn.  It is therefore surprising that after the 2.1 billion litres of clean fuel imported by the NNPC was released and distributed nationwide, yet motorists complain of no fuel at fueling stations and queues are noticed at the few ones selling the product. Sabotage shifts base from importation to the supply and distribution ground.

The Take Away from the two episodes is that while Nigeria has not witnessed any queue of motorists at filling stations in the last four years and importation of contaminated fuel is now a history, pundits in the oil and gas sector are surprised at the turn of events in the wake of the applauded reforms going on at the NNPC by the leadership of Malam Mele Kyari.

He factored to the turn-around of the Corporation from a loss of ₦803bn in 2018 to a profit of ₦287bn in 2020  and it was a bit unbelievable for a corporation that has made a name as a conduit pipe through which those in power siphoned Nigeria’s common wealth into their private pockets to now become profitable.

Mele Kyari transformed the NNPC into an energy company and insisted that the (then) Corporation must be run with utmost transparency and commenced the publication of the Monthly Financial and Operation Reports. He laid the foundation for the Corporation’s transformation into a public liability company that would be run like any business conglomerate around the world.

In the Upstream sector, NNPC under Kyari intensified oil exploration in the inland basins and the Kolmani River II Well was drilled in the Upper Benue Trough. Nigeria’s crude oil reserves increased from 36.8 to 40 billion barrels.

On April 6, 2021, the NNPC signed a $1.5bn Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract Agreement with Tecnimont S.P.A for the complete rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery.  Contract for the rehabilitation of Warri and Kaduna Refineries for a combined sum of $1.484bn was approved by the Federal Executive Council on August 4, 2021. This is the first time I know of Rehabilitation of the Refineries but the routine then was Turn Around Maintenance, TAM.

Like what President Muhammadu Buhari often say about his administration’s fight against corruption that “corruption is fighting back”, Mele Kyari should know that his reforms agenda at NNPC of correcting faults, removing inconsistencies and abuses, and imposing modern methods or values” will shut “chuwa-chuwa” (a newly invented Hausa word for black market) and the cabal in the oil and gas industry who profiteer at the slightest opportunity will be out of business. Rehabilitation of the Refineries will have negative effect on the importation regime and the beneficiaries of subsidy will look for another job.

Importation of Bad Fuel and the Return of Queues at Fueling Stations mean putting a spanner in the works of the CEO of NNPC Ltd, to divert his attention from the successful implementation of his agenda of taking the organisation to greater heights. Sabotage and Foul Play are suspected and there should be a counter or anti sabotage mechanism for MK to succeed in the successful management of the nation’s main source of revenue and supplier of clean oil and energy.

Ibrahim (Kwakwatawa) FNGE, Veteran Journalist and Media Consultant sent this piece from Kano City.

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