By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the unnecessary hardships inflicted on Nigerians during the Christmas and New Year celebrations following acute petrol scarcity across the country.
The president, who stated this in a nationwide broadcast in Abuja on Monday to mark the New Year, attributed the hardships to the activities of a few but heartless individuals working within the nation’s oil and gas sector.
He, however, reiterated the determination of his administration to get to the root of the persistent petrol scarcity, and ensure that whichever groups were behind this manipulated hardship would be prevented from doing so again.
“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.
President Buhari added that the activities of such unpatriotic individuals would not divert his administration’s determination to uplift the quality of life of the citizens.
He said: “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.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that fuel scarcity during festive periods is a recurrent feature in Nigeria, although it disappeared in the last two years.
The scarcity is said to be caused by greedy marketers who tried to take undue advantage of the high inter-state movements during the season.
In some states, a litre of fuel rose to between N200 and N300 or above per litre, as against the official pump price of N145.
However, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, on Friday vowed that Nigerians would not go into 2018 with the scarcity of petroleum products.