In the absence of any official state government intervention over the sustained increases in the Pump Prices of fuel (PMS) and kerosene (HHK) in the filling stations in Imo state, the National leadership of the Niger Delta Youth Forum (NDYF) led by Barr. (Prince) Eze Nwauwa, and those of the Disabled Sports Club, have stormed the offices of the Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR) to find out if they are on the pay roll of the Independent Petroleum Marketers.
Their resolve to invade the business premises of DPR in Owerri is sequel to the unrestrained and increasing institutionalization of the high prices of PMS at an average of N250 per liter and N220 also for a liter of PMS and House Hold Kerosene, respectively.
Long before the Christmas celebration, petrol filling stations in Imo state were selling PMS and HHK far above official pump prices, to the chagrin of motorists. In the pervading milieu, both the government officials, including the state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, all kept mute. No single religious or political leader was known to have condemned the high cost of fuel and transport which affected their flocks very heavily and inflicted pains, agony, sorrow and trauma on those who wished to celebrate the Christmas outside their Owerri abodes.
The Civil Service Union and Imo NLC and NULGE which usually take up the gauntlet whenever the heat is on the civil servants, never uttered a world thus fuelling speculations that they have all been compromised and that as heavy investors in the oil and gas industries, they are possible collaborators in the act of exploitation and extortion. The people especially those travelling out of the capital city of Owerri, at Christmas were therefore left to bear the pains of high cost of public transport with no one in particular caring about their plight. It was like another, “to your tenth oh! Israel” as everyone was sheep without shepherd.
Worst still, the governor despite all the hues and cries was very unwilling to bite an eye. With a compounded economic situation, the Imo citizens however managed to celebrate the yuletide and ended up buying PMS at an average of N250 per liter. Several days after the festivities, just when normalcy was expected to return to Owerri and other filling stations in Imo state, yet petrol (PMS) was still selling at the same N250 per liter particularly at the popular “Ebere Links” which locates next door to DPR office. Like they described ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim resort to spending as much as N8 billion on the “dredging of River Nworie”, NDYF now led by Barr. Eze Nwauwa, has now queried DPR to explain why this should be so. Accompanied by leaders of other civil society organizations (SOs, and NGOs) alongside the Disabled Club Owerri, they challenged DPR on the roles and responsibilities under the prevailing circumstances.
According to the erudite legal luminary from the Nwauwa Royal family of Oguta, “where he lives in Akwa Ibom state”, there is no such case of increase in pump prices of petrol or kerosene. This is because the NNPC mega station dispenses PMS at N143 per liter “and you cannot stay on the queue for more than one hour to fill your tank or container”. A thing of the past in the whole of Imo state where only the absurd take front banner.
He could not therefore understand why DPR in Imo state would allow the petrol stations here to have a field day to the extent of selling above N220 per liter of PMS, almost close to two weeks after Xmas festivities. He therefore charged the DPR to do the right thing by sanctioning all erring fuel marketers or have themselves to blame since youths of Imo state could lose control and set their offices ablaze for collaborating with petroleum products marketers to exploit unsuspecting public. The youths he reiterated can no long tolerate the ugly situation where their welfare is not given top priority and consideration.
He also stressed that the high cost of fuel in Imo state is untenable, indefensible and unjustified, since they in the Independent and major marketers, Owerri, source their products from the same NNPC depots as Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa state. The situation he explained further is worse in Imo state with Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra state based petroleum marketers, reverting to N145 per liter of PMS. It was expected that at the end of the peaceful demonstration, officials of DPR in Imo state would be more resnsive and alive to their responsibilities.