The Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, has finally apologised to Nigerians for his comments last week that the current petrol scarcity will continue till May, and that he does not have a magic wand to make the scarcity go away overnight.
Speaking to journalists last Wednesday at the presidential villa, Kachikwu said, “One of the trainings I did not receive is that of a magician, but I am working very hard to ensure some of these issues go away.”
His comments led to a groundswell of criticism due to its insensitivity at a time when Nigerians where spending hours in fuel queues, coupled with the power shortages and road traffic jams due to the fuel queues. Even a senior leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, criticised Kachikwu, calling on him to either apologise to Nigerians or resign.
The Minister apologised on Tuesday at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Petroleum on Tuesday. He also assured Nigerians that fuel queues will disappear across the nation by April even though Nigerians may have to wait till May for “major revolution” in the availability of the products.
“I am not a typically experience politician. I am a technocrat,” said Kachikwu. “I apologize if the comments I made jocularly to my friends in the media offended anyone.”
Explaining why there is no immediate solution to the fuel scarcity, Kachikwu said 90 per cent of Nigerian depots were not functional.
“Most fuel products into Nigeria come from Europe and it takes 14 days for fuel to land here,” he said.
On how to improve the productivity of the depots, he said the government would engage consultants to manage the depots.
According to him, advertisement to engage the consultants for management of the depots would start soon.
Kachikwu emphasized that refineries must function optimally in order to achieve efficiency in distribution.
“Refineries in Nigeria are old and dilapidated but with appropriate funds and retooling they will be revived to full capacity,” Mr. Kachikwu said.