Energy crisis: How Capital Oil Saved The Nation From Collapse | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Energy crisis: How Capital Oil Saved The Nation From Collapse

Posted: May 30, 2015 at 12:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oba’s Esiedese  –  Abuja
In the past three months, the supply and distribution of premium motor spirit (petrol) has faced a lot of challenges. First was the issue of subsidy payments which pitted the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) against the Federal Government. Then there was the issue of transport claims by Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) involved in the bridging system which accused the major marketers of failing to pay them their claims.

Ifeanyi Uba

Ifeanyi Uba

Third and the latest was the strike action embarked by the Nigerian National Petroleum (NNPC) branch of the Petroleum and Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG)who are protesting the transfer of operatorship of Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 42, 40 and 30 from NNPC to its subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

The assets were previously operated by multinational company Shell, but now transferred to Emeka Offor’s Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited which is a joint venture company of Eland Oil and Gas Plc and Ernest Ezedialu Obiejesi’s NECONDE.

All these led to the worst energy crisis the country has faced in modern time. Homes and businesses were without electricity for days, coupled with the lack of petrol, there was also acute shortage of gas supply to power plants which directly resulted in the lowest electricity generation in the country’s history.

The energy situation over the weekend was dire. Across the country, citizens were compelled to pay an average of N300 per litre for a product that is subsidized by government at N87 per litre.

While MOMAN held the nation to ransom over N200b outstanding subsidy claims, the federal government through the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it has paid the marketers about N500b since December 2014 and whooping N192b this year alone.

Yet, the marketers were not satisfied, and their action coupled with those of NARTO and the NNPC branch of NUPENG and PENGASSAN ensured that consumers and citizens had an unpleasant time.

But operating in a manner remarkably different from the other oil marketers, an indigenous oil company, the Capital Oil and Gas announced that it was not getting involved in the shutdown of the country. It said it would keep loading products at its depot and continue distributing fuel across country.

Explaining the position of the company in the company’s depot in Lagos depot, the Chairman/CEO, of  Capital oil and Gas Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah said leaving the country without any form of energy would cause untold hardship on the people.
According to him, “On Saturday, 16th May 2015, we received an SMS ordering the suspension of loading activities in all depots from Monday 18th May 2015. We later realized that this directive was as a result of unpaid funds owed to transporters by oil marketers who in turn are owed by the Federal Government.

“This development has resulted in immense hardship to our fellow country men and women. We believe that a better solution can be pursued towards solving this problem in a way that does not adversely affect our dear citizens.

“Capital Oil and Gas has watched with so much pain, the suffering and hardship our citizens have been subjected to as a result of scarcity of petrol, diesel, aviation fuel and house hold kerosene.
“We are deeply pained to hear that hospitals cannot perform surgeries, laboratories are unable to carry out much needed tests especially for emergency patients leaving such patients at risk of dying, radio stations are shutting down, communication is being affected as MTN and other telecommunications company have announced an impending shut down while homes, offices and key facilities nationwide are experiencing blackouts”.

Ubah added that “in some parts of the country, petrol is already selling at an all-time high of N1,000 per litre. Our citizens have left their homes and are now sleeping in fuel stations, facing the risk of robbery attacks and other attendant risk.

“In a few days’ time, a new government headed by General Muhamadu Buhari will be sworn in. Apart from our citizens being unable to watch the handover on television and unavailability of transportation for attendees of this historic handover, the resulting chaos from this scarcity may shutdown the Nation and sabotage the efforts Nigeria has made to attain greater heights.

“We are constrained at this point and have decided that two wrongs cannot make a right. We will not be part of this sabotage against our fatherland. Therefore from this minute, we shall take the risk of opening our facilities and commence swift loading and distribution of products nationwide”.

He disclosed that the company’s facility has the “capacity to load over 13 million litres of product before dawn. This comes to approximately 400 trucks of petroleum products. With this act, it is our belief that once again our citizens will begin to smile, return to normal family and work life.

“We call on other petroleum marketers to follow suit and save our Nation from this impending economic and social crisis. This is a period that requires patriotism and service to fatherland. Let’s join hands to help our fellow citizens and save Nigeria. We also call on striking bodies to call off the strike action. Let us work together for the betterment of our people”, he stated.

Ubah said he has ordered the company’s our truck park, port reception facilities and our depot complex to remain open stressing that “we are ordering and resuming discharge of products from vessels at our berths. We have ordered our trucks to commence loading of products and move overnight to every state of the federation.
“Most importantly, we wish to use this medium to thank NNPC and PPMC for their steadfastness in ensuring the availability of petroleum products. Current PPMC stock level in our storage tanks and buffer stock on vessels awaiting discharge at our jetty is capable of meeting the nation’s need for 15 days.

“Furthermore, we wish to emphasis that we have a total solution to the traffic menace on the Oshod-Aapapa Expressway. In the coming weeks, we hope to engage the Federal Government (Federal Ministry of Transport), Lagos State Government and other stakeholders in the affected area, to optimally utilize our truck park facilities which have the capacity to accommodate over 1,100 trucks per time and 5,000 on a shift basis.
Ubah appealed to Nigerians to accept and support the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry as the only way to end such hardship and the corruption inherent in the subsidy process.
His words “Capital Oil and Gas continues to appeal to Nigerians to accept and support deregulation as this will curb corruption, enhance competition, lead to reduction of pump price for petroleum products and ensure constant supply to meet Nigeria’s demand”.
It does not take donkey’s years to become a national hero; neither does it require the strength of an elephant to be appreciated.  Just a little show of benevolence does it sometimes. The Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Uba, has just demonstrated rare kindness to fellow Nigerians at this critical period of nationwide fuel crisis and the people are singing his praises. When his colleagues were bent on shooting down Nigeria with their inconsiderate, grave demands before lifting fuel to assuage people’s thirst, Ubah decided to come to the rescue, damning the consequences.  Making history is a plausible personal decision which requires a little sacrifice and the determination to achieve it.

This is exactly what Ubah has done. He appreciated the fuel crisis which rocked the nation and decided to intervene. He disengaged his company from the raging nationwide strike embarked upon by oil marketers, which
paralysed virtually everything in the country and directed his company to start lifting fuel from its facilities in Apapa, Lagos. This was to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians who had been struggling and sleeping in filling stations whose nozzles were long dry. In case there is someone who does not recognize an act of patriotism, this is one.
Ubah said that he could not bear the hardship, which Nigerians were going through to get fuel and so directed his company, Capital Oil, to commence work immediately. Capital Oil has the capacity to load about 400 trucks overnight. Whatever it is, Ubah’s gesture is commendable by all standards. This man from Nnewi , Anambra State, did not allow the hustling for profit to take the better part of him like others. Ubah gave Nigerians hope that the almost- paralysed socio-economic condition of the country would improve.

Ubah is not new to philanthropy. He has initiated an 8000 capacity cathedral project in Nnewi, his home town, without asking anyone or group for contribution.  For him, his wealth is meaningless if it is not used to propagate the gospel as well as assist the less privileged in society. The 44-year-old businessman, born in 1971 to teacher-parents, had a humble background. That explains why he understands the poor condition of many Nigerians. He donated a student hostel to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and built a 160 seating capacity ICT Centre for the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. Ubah was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Management Technology, by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State and an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Critical and Creative Thinking from Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA.