By Hamza Suleiman
Maiduguri – Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has unveiled plans by the state government to establish four mega filling stations to enhance fuel supply in the state.
Zulum disclosed this on Saturday in Maiduguri when the Zonal Operation Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Northeast, Mr Ibrahim Ciroma, with some stakeholders in the oil business paid him a courtesy call.
The stakeholders included members of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
Zulum said the stations, when established, would complement the efforts of oil marketers as well as boost distribution and availability of products to meet local demands of the growing population in the state.
He assured that his administration would do everything possible to protect the rights of citizens and improve their well-being.
The governor frowned at what he described as “economic sabotage” by some unpatriotic oil marketers in the state who always exploited citizens by hoarding fuel to cause artificial scarcity and hardship.
”We know the Borno State Government is not responsible for regulation of petroleum products marketers but then, we have our tool under the Land Use Act of 1978.
“That Act has empowered the state government to not only own land but ensure legitimate use of such based on best practices.
“Exploiting citizens is certainly not a legitimate use of land in Borno state and we cannot fold our arms as government.
“We have given some directives to revisit the land ownership status of some filling stations because of their practices that are not in compliance with DPR’s regulations, and we will not hesitate to take measures that will be in the overall interest of the public,” he threatened.
The governor expressed willingness to work with all marketers and other stakeholders across the state to ensure adequate supply of products based on fair trade.
“We will talk to the GMD to make the product available in the state, especially in times like this due to the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
Zulum however commended efforts of the DPR’s regional office in Maiduguri for trying to enforce best practices amongst marketers.
Earlier speaking, Ciroma attributed the hiccups which resulted to long queues in some filling stations in Maiduguri to drop in supplies as well as the inter-state lockdown across the country which affected smooth access of trucks to Maiduguri.
He said the DPR had summoned meetings with oil marketers with a view to making products available in the state.
The Chairman, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) Mr Nasir Gaji, said efforts were already in place to supply 98 trucks of fuel to the state.
“Already we have 10 loaded from Gombe as part of the effort to make the product available in the state,” he said.
On his part, Alhaji Mohammed Kuluwu, the Borno Chairman of IPMAN, attributed the scarcity to unwillingness of some marketers to lift the product following the dwindling price.
He urged the government to come up with strategies of addressing the problems.