Filling stations remained shut.on Saturday in Akwa Ibom State over a lingering labour dispute between an oil company and its workers.
Tankers headed to the state were grounded by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers in solidarity with the workers.
The situation grounded activities across the state even as residents had to travel to neighbouring states to get fuel.
However, in a statement by Obong Essien Esema, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Petroleum Matters/Chairman, PPMC, and made available to journalists in Uyo on Saturday, the stage government warned petrol dealers not to hoard the products or increase their prices.
The statement partly read, ”The government wishes to use this medium to warn all Petroleum marketers in the state not to see the crisis as an avenue to engage in profiteering by hoarding or hiking pump price of petroleum products, especially petrol as there is no justification to do so.
”The state government wishes to state emphatically that this crisis is not about the action or inaction of the state government or any of its agencies.
”Recent intelligence gathered by our surveillance operatives, indicates that hiding under this situation, most marketers and other petroleum products peddlers are in the habit of hoarding, arbitrary increase in pump price and even adulteration of genuine products to make more profits at the expense of consuming public. Already, most unscrupulous marketers have jacked up pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) and are dispensing to the public at N150 per litre and above.”
Esema warned that the government would not hesitate to punish any petroleum marketer found culpable of the offense, adding that the government will do all within lawful ambit to resist illegal activities in the state.
He further appealed to the general public to remain calm, saying that the government was doing all within its powers to handle the crisis and quickly bring everything under control in the interest of the masses.
On what caused the fuel scarcity, Esema said ”The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers of Nigeria (NUPENG) embargoed supply of petroleum products to Akwa Ibom State with effect from 23rd July, 2018.
”This current fuel crisis emanated from an industrial action embarked upon by NUPENG in solidarity with some of her members who were affected by the downsizing exercise undertaken by Universal Energy Resources Ltd, a private oil servicing from operating within the coastal delineations of the state.
”Following the intervention of Akwa Ibom State Government through the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Petroleum Matters, the Management of Universal Energy Resources Limited and NUPENG/PENGASSAN were brought to negotiation table and the matter was resolved with the signing of a communique by all parties concerned.
”Apparently, the understanding to the effect that Universal Energy Resources Limited and NUPENG/PENGASSAN should re-open discussion on the issue of redundancy of its work force in line with Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) seems to have broken down. Consequently, the matter was taken to the National Industrial Court, Calabar for adjudication.”
He blamed NUPENG for embarking on the strike which, according to him, has brought untold hardship and sufferings to innocent Akwa Ibom people.
”Under the circumstances and in all sense of fairness, it is not appropriate for NUPENG to embark on outright industrial action thereby inflicting pains and hardship on innocent consumers of petroleum products in the state,” the governor’s aide said.