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Last week, filling stations across Akwa Ibom state decided to inflict untold hardship on the people of the state. Today, petrol is selling between N180 and N200 per litre. There are several flimsy reasons to justify this satanic act in the media. Whatever the actual reason is, this particular act is criminal as it is against the federal government approved pump price of N145 per litre.

Why should Akwa Ibom residents be made to suffer more economic hardship, even in the face of economic recession in the country. My investigations revealed that majority of these filling stations in the state only open for sale at night and it goes for as high as N180 to N200 and with adjusted fuel metres, that is, if not adulterated petrol.

I could recall that on assumption of office as Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel announced the dissolution of the Petroleum Products Monitoring Committee (PPMC) under Otuekong Emmanuel Ibiok set up by his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and reconstituted same with Obong Essien Esema, as chairman. Esema also doubles as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Petroleum Matters.

Esema’s tenure like Ibiok’s, has witnessed a lot of artificial fuel scarcity in Akwa Ibom State. Could this be because the duo are owners of the majority of filling stations in the state? Would there have been any difference should someone who is not a Petroleum Dealer/Market be appointed to head this all important PPMC? These are questions, I think have a simple answer of YES!

Why do I think so? As Akwa Ibom people have seen, Esema’s taskforce (PPMC ) has completely failed to tackle corruption in the Petroleum sector, perhaps, because of his pecuniary interest in the business. He cannot execute the mandates of the taskforce committee to the fullest being an interested person in the Petroleum business. He is a fellow marketer of the product. And by extension, a member of the Association of those dealing on the products. That is why it is truism that one cannot be a judge in his own case.

Esema is biased and partisan in this fuel scarcity matter as a Petroleum Marketer. Ideally, in any sane clime, Esema and likes, who have vested interest in petroleum sector, have no business in the PPMC, not as members, talk much of heading it. The issue at hand here today, is like asking a dog to watch over fellow dogs, it is a near impossible situation.

Except individuals with lack of partisan and biased interest in petroleum products in the state are appointed into the PPMC henceforth, I can assure Governor Udom Emmanuel that there will be no end to the suffering of Akwa Ibom masses because the artificial fuel scarcity is orchestrated by petroleum marketers with full backing of the Esema’s PPMC.

Hence, I am calling on the state governor to urgently come to the rescue of Akwa Ibom residents by dissolving the Essien Esema led PPMC and re-appointing non-partisan men and women of tested and proven integrity; unbiased people with God fearing minds; people with good character and conscience, to checkmate the excesses of these Petroleum Marketers in the state.

Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator

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