By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has raised alarm on the reliance on firewood and sawdust for cooking by poor Nigerians due to the scarcity and adulteration of dual purpose kerosene (DPK), which he said is further degrading the environment and endangering more lives due to cases of explosions.
This is just as he called for sanction of all involved in the illegal transportation of petroleum products, the attendant fire incident at Suleja Depot and the disappearance of eleven (11) billion naira worth of petroleum products belonging to NNPC at Capital oil farm tank in Lagos State.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the investigative hearing on some resolutions referred to the House Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, he noted that even when available, many Nigerians can still not get access to kerosene because of its high price.
He said, “A common domestic product for the average Nigerian has become a scarce commodity and even when available, remains unaffordable for the majority people of the lower class that depend largely on it.
“The scenario forces most households to resort to the use of charcoal, saw dust and firewood for cooking which is hazardous to the environment, more especially as it promotes desertification through deforestation.
“It is also very disheartening the current high incidence of kerosene explosions in various parts of the country which resulted in the loss of several lives and destruction of properties. These might be related to the non–availability and non–affordability of the product which might have caused its adulteration with other available products making it highly inflammable as a means of maximizing profits.
“This trend is likely to get worse if the Federal Government does not embrace an agenda that adopts a definite, clear cut policy direction on kerosene that would lead to abundance of the product”, he stated.
Going further, Dogara urged the committee to expand its scope of investigation into the possible consequence of adulterating Automotive Turbine Kerosene (ATK) as sometimes done to DPK, because of their similarity, which could result into unsafe situation for the Aviation Industry and the entire nation.
The committee and stakeholders, he added, are expected to determine and ensure that mechanisms are put in place to make DPK available and affordable by coming up with a framework on kerosene to alleviate the problem being faced by the poor masses.
On the need to protect the revenue of the federal government from diversion by some individuals, the Speaker called for sanctions for perpetrators of the illegal transportation of petroleum products and the attendant fire incident at Suleja Depot, the disappearance of eleven (11) billion naira worth of petroleum products belonging to NNPC” at Capital oil farm tank in Lagos.
He said the issues are also of high national concern, especially with the present government’s advocacy on anti–corruption. “This could jeopardize the national economy by possibly reducing the Government revenue thereby yielding a serious set-back on the country’s struggle out of economic recession.
“The Committee should thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that perpetrators are sanctioned accordingly so as to prevent re-occurrence and to also act as deterrent to others,” he stated, while adding that the investigation is not a witch hunt of anyone.
The investigative hearing is on the following: (a.) “Need For A Clear-cut Policy Framework On Deregulation Of Kerosene To Avert The Current Challenges Faced By The Poor Masses In Acquisition Of Kerosene.”
”Need To Arrest The Resurgence Of Kerosene Explosions With Attendant Fatalities.”
“Need To Investigate Illegal Transportation Of Petroleum Products And The Attendant Fire Incident At Suleja Depot.”
“Need to Investigate the Disappearance of Eleven (11) Billion Naira worth of Petroleum Products Belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)”, he added.