+How they are making more than N80 per litre Illegally for Themselves and Associates in government
The most corrupt sector in Nigeria is, without doubt, the petroleum industry. It is where the people are most affected, as essential daily-used products like kerosene, diesel, cooking gas and petrol are traded. Knowing full well the importance of these products, it behoves on government to make sure that there is order in their distribution, to ensure availability and affordability. And their scarcity has a more telling effect the common man, who, because of government’s inability to provide stable electricity has to power his equipment himself. It is however sad that kerosene, which should be a reprieve for the common man, is being taken advantage of by those in government in conjunction with some private companies to perpetrate fraud of unimaginable proportions against Nigerians.
Years back, at the inception of the current political dispensation, it was general knowledge that Femi Otedola’s Zenon Oil was directly involved in the importation and distribution of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), generally called kerosene. This was attributed to his closeness to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then the President of Nigeria. It was even alleged that the former president decided to sell the state-owned African Petroleum (AP) to Otedola, to enable him effectively distribute the allegedly highly subsidised kerosene.
It is the general belief that the right to be the sole importer and seller of kerosene during Obasanjo’s regime was responsible for the much talked about wealth and popularity of Otedola. Investigation shows that the money committed to the subsidy suddenly made kerosene importation and supply very lucrative. Little wonder that after Obasanjo’s tenure, another company started lobbying for the lucrative kerosene business. And this turned out to be the beginning of Ifeanyi Uba’s Capital Oil and Gas incursion into the money-spinning kerosene importation and distribution.
Uba, realising how much he stood to gain, tried his luck during Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s regime when Diezani Alison-Madueke was appointed the Minister of Petroleum. Knowing that it would be very difficult to wrest the right off Otedola’s AP, he used the influence of the Petroleum Minister to introduce the concept of mobile filling stations. This was contained in an agreement signed with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the sale of kerosene directly to consumers, which was said to be a move aimed at eliminating middlemen and bringing down the price.
The agreement happened to be the beginning of a systematic approach by the then Petroleum Minister to take from Otedola the importation right and consequent wealth the subsidy brings, and to give same to her own associates. In no time at all, the contract was issued to little known SPOG Petrochemicals, a company owned by Jide Omokore, a known associate of the Minister and that opened the door for the product to be sold to the people at a price far higher that it was pegged at by the government.
Unlike the era of Otedola’s African Petroleum, which has since changed name to Fort Oil, andb Ifeanyi Uba’s Capital Oil and Gas, which both sold and still sell to consumers through their filling stations and customised tankers otherwise known as mobile filling stations, Jide Omokore’s SPOG has nowhere to sell directly to consumers. It only sells to other companies that run filling stations. And that is the reason the controlled price of N50 in some filling stations has since disappeared.
Findings revealed that a sum of $3.38 billion was spent on kerosene subsidy in the country between January 2012 and July 2013. But the people never got the product for anything less than N130 per litre during the stated period. This invariably means that some elements in the government and Mr. Omokore and associates were able to pocket more fantastic sums of money for a service they did not render to Nigerians.
While the people are suffering based on the hardship they undergo because of the high cost of kerosene, some individuals like Femi Otedola, Ifeanyi Uba, Jide Omokore and others are smiling to the bank at the expense of Nigerians.