By Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya
The leadership of House of Representatives has assured the people of border communities of steady petrol supply.
The resolutions were reached at plenary sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Hon Sada Soli in a lead debate.
He said ” the inhabitants of these border towns are already feeling the brunt of the border closure and to now deny them petroleum products which would adversely affect hospitals, businesses and the supplementing of the source of epileptic power without due consultation and enlightenment, was most insensitive to the plight of these Nigerians”.
The member added that being from Jibia in Katsina State which is also a border community; he has seen first-hand the adverse effects of this operation as the price of petroleum had skyrocketed beyond what was the reach of the common man and called on the House to call the Customs Service to order as the action is unconstitutional.
The motion which was adopted and referred to the committee for investigation, the speaker of the House mandated its Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), to engage the Minister of Interior, the Minister of State for Petroleum, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs and the Group Managing Director of National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) ,Petroleum Resources (DPR) Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the stakeholders. with a view to reviewing the situation and ameliorating the suffering of Nigerians living in the border towns and report back within two weeks for further legislative action .
Follow-up to House speaker directive on Thursday 28 of last month the Joint Committee convened public hearing by the House with stakeholders and other concerns agencies which both made concerted efforts toward finding lasting solutions to the suffering of borders communities.
In view with public hearing objectives both stakeholders appeared before the committee yield positive results. While retired Col. Hameed Ali responding the questions on why NCS enforce the suspension of Petroleum Products supply to Filling Stations within 20 Kilometers to the Nation’s Borders said directive banning and sales of petroleum products in fuel stations within 20 kilometers to the borders, though temporary, had started to yield positive results as Nigeria no longer subsidise fuel for the neighboring countries. NCS has discovered how owners of filling stations used their licenses to get products but which they divert to other countries to sell at higher prices.
Supporting his organization stands that NCS have no I’ll will but decision was taken after a security meeting with relevant agencies on the need to curb the activities of economic saboteurs smuggling petroleum products across the border. Adding that the Department of Petroleum Resource refusal to furnish the service with data on the approved and illegal filling stations along the borders, saying this lack of cooperation by the DPR, have not helping the situation as if NSC known the approved filling stations would have been isolated from the illegal ones. Ali queried the high number of fuel points in the border communities where the population was lesser than the volume of petrol supplied.
.Stressing there is a policy in this country that says no petrol station should be established 10km to the borders; it is in existence, it is a policy. It is now left for us to work with the DPR and ensure that this policy is implemented. Supporting NSC argument that large numbers of fuel station were built along the boundaries, stressing that fuel was discharged at the Nigerian end of the premises, it was dispensed at the other end outside the country.
While stakeholders agreeing with the committee that the policy should be reviewed to end the sufferings of the people living in border communities both concerns agencies and stakeholders agreeing to form a powerful joint committee to touring the affected area with the view to see on the modalities of ending the country petroleum supply to the neighboring countries. With aim to puts a stop to a situations where stations operating legally would be identified and allowed to dispense fuel in the affected areas, saying the illegal stations in the borders areas had more supplies than those in the city.
In its responds Department of Petroleum Resources said about 400 illegal fuel stations were operating in Nigeria’s border communities, in addition to about 923 others licences to operate there.