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Fuel Crisis: Marketers Resume Lifting

Posted: May 26, 2015 at 2:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•We Paid Them N762b In One Year, Says Okonjo-Iweala •Labour: Oil Cabal Arm-Twisting FG •How Our Intervention Ended Oil Workers’ Strike –Uba  

By Joe Nwankwo, Ignatius Okorocha, Innocent Oweh (Abuja) and Phillip Oladunjoye (Lagos)


There was a ray of hope that the lingering fuel scarcity rocking the nation may soon be a thing of the past as tanker drivers, on Monday, started lifting petroleum products from various depots across the country, after suspending their strike.

Daily Independent gathered that the tanker drivers started lifting fuel Monday afternoon, following the intervention of the Senate at a meeting stakeholders in Abuja on the issue.

An industry source told one of our correspondent: “The drivers called off the strike and have started lifting fuel. They started around 2.00 clock today (Monday). The Senate had called them to a meeting, but I learnt that NUPENG (the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers) did not attend.”

The meeting was attended by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; as well as representatives of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN); Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Pipeline Petroleum Marketing Company (PPMC); Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA); Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR); Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN); and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

Addressing participants at the meeting, chairman of the joint committee, Senator Magnus Abe said stakeholders agreed that the Minister of Finance would “give an undertaking to the major marketers and PPPRA that the work of the committee set up to verify outstanding claims being headed by the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) would be concluded. If it is concluded before the end of the life of this administration it will be reflected in the handover note. If it is not concluded before the end of the life of this administration, then the fact that such a committee is set up and working will be reflected in the handover note and a copy of the letter conveying the existence of this committee will be sent to MOMAN and DAPPMA and also to this Committee. So, on the basis of that agreement MOMAN will offer whatever cooperation that is needed to enable lifting of products nationwide to begin within the next six hours.”

He said MOMAN “also agreed to give a similar undertaking to NARTO to pay existing transport cost as have been determined by them. Not all existing but the portion that had been agreed by them to be paid. MOMAN will give that written undertaking to NARTO and a copy will also be sent to this Committee. So, NARTO and its members and affiliates nationwide will commence lifting of products from all available depots within the next six hours.”

On its part, “DAPPMA is to instruct all their depots that have products to open those depots off lifting. Lifting must commence within the next six hours.

“We have also agreed with DPR that any depot that has product and failed to begin lifting withing the next six hours should have their licence revoked immediately in the national interest.”

The meeting noted NARTO’s complain “about two roads that are critical to their operations and that have made lifting of products nationwide difficult if not impossible. That is the Eleme Junction in Port Harcourt leading to the Port Harcourt Refinery – about 11 kilometers – and the Ilorin-Olorunjegba Road in Kwara State which is the only link between the North and the South West, particularly Lagos where these products are available at this time. We have agreed that MOMAN will discuss this with their members with a view to looking for a permanent solution to those places and if need be take up the matter with government. But a joint team of MOMAN and NARTO officials will go around the country to address the drivers and other stakeholders on this understanding.”

It was also agreed that NNPC would direct all relevant staff at all depots to work 24 hours including Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weeks until normalcy returns to the sector, while the Lagos State Government would be approached “to facilitate this agreement and reach some kind of arrangement with the tanker drivers that will allow access to the relevant depots to enable the lifting of products to commence. “

But before the closed door meeting started, Okonjo-Iweala said the administration has so far demonstrated that it prioritises payment to marketers, because of the importance of fuel to the economy and Nigerian families

She said between 2014 and 2015, the government “paid a total of N762 billion. Since December we have paid about N500 billion, which is the number that they have been quoting. This year, 2015 we have paid N192 billion. If you look at the pattern of payments we have made in previous years, this is no different. It’s not like this year we are doing anything different. In fact, this year has been the opposite. We have already paid N191 billion this year. There is also provision for foreign exchange and interest rate differentials and a profit margin even for the marketers.

“The marketers insisted that this foreign exchange and interest rate differentials must be paid and we did pay them. Last year we paid N48 billion and this year we have paid N93 billion in both forex and interest rate differentials.

Abe noted that the current fuel scarcity was taking a different dimension. For him, it is alarming that the situation was fast becoming a national emergency.

Participants rose from the meeting, which lasted about 25 minutes, agreeing on the need for a “solution to the immediate problems in the supply and distribution of products nationwide. I also want to thank the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Joseph Dawha, for his determined intervention with the unions within the NNPC that also resulted in a solution to the problems of the strike in the NNPC just in the course of our meeting right now.”

Piqued by happenings in the downstream sector of the oil industry however, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday, berated unnamed ‘cabals’ in the oil industry, who it accused of trying to arm-twist the Federal Government to part with billions of dollars in the name of subsidy payment.

NLC’s President, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja, lamented that their actions have crippled business and commercial activities in the past few months, just as it has caused the country billions of dollars over the years.

According to him, “clearly, the objective of the cabal in the current impasse is to arm-twist the Federal Government to part with billions of dollars, which it had not earned, in the name of fuel subsidy payments.”

Waba said it was curious that “the Federal Government has allowed this cabal to continue to hold the entire country to ransom thereby escalating the regime of impunity and unimaginable corruption which had taken complete hold of the operations of our petroleum sector causing the country to lose billions of dollars over the years.”

On Monday too, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Dr. Ifeanyi Uba, urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to bequeath the regulated fuel price regime to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.

Uba was reacting to his decision to pull out of the nationwide oil workers’ strike when his loading facility in Ibafo, Lagos commenced the pumping of petroleum said “intervention to save Nigerians from further crises is what gave rise to the suspension of the strike later yesterday by the oil workers.”