By EDDY AKPOR
DEPUTY Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase, has indicted aviation industry stakeholders of blackmailing President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, as the 2023 general elections inches closer.
This followed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) threat to shut down the nation’s airports due to the unavailability of aviation fuel, otherwise known as Jet-A1.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting, Wase charged the relevant government agencies to urgently reduce the price of aviation fuel to enable airline operators to resume full operations in the country and beyond.
Specifically, Wase asked the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, to take urgent steps to salvage the situation.
Managing Director of the NCAA, Musa Nuhu, told participants at the meeting that prices of aviation fuel increase by the day in the wake of its scarcity, saying the development constituted a huge threat to the safety of lives of air travellers, as the airlines had been over-stretched.
Following the development, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has decried President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration over the persistent fuel scarcity experienced in parts of the country, saying it is a tactical way of blackmailing Nigerians to accept fuel price adjustment by the government.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group said the government was obviously satisfied with the extortion of fuel markers at filling stations, with some selling petrol for N500 per litre to desperate motorists and Nigerians whose lives and businesses depend on petrol – either for their vehicles or for generating sets to power their businesses.
HURIWA maintained that it was unfortunate that for almost two months now, the fuel crisis caused by the importation and distribution of dirty petrol has not abated despite NNPC’s monopoly.
The rights group enjoined the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in January 2022, after overwhelming public outcry, said it had suspended the planned petrol subsidy removal expected to commence in June this year.
Also, a group, Youths Arise for Undiluted Leadership and Development Initiatives has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (NNDPRA) and Nigerian National Petroleum Limited (NNPL) over the recent sabotage leading to the importation of contaminated petroleum products.
The action, it said, has since triggered artificial and endless scarcity of supply in Nigeria.
They also asked the President to set up an Independent Panel of Inquiry into the circumstances that surrounded the importation of the contaminated petroleum products into the country by the NNPC and its contractors.
Speaking at a press conference held at the NUJ press centre in Abuja, yesterday, the National Coordinator of the group, Akharame Lucky, said: “The conflict of interests and the connivance of the two organisations are obvious.”