Business

Petrol Scarcity: Marketers threaten Shutdown Over N200bn Debt

Black market vendors continued to profit, selling petrol in kegs and jerrycans for N1,200 per liter.

By Musa Ibrahim, Abuja

Five days after NNPC Limited reassured consumers that it had resolved logistical challenges causing the current petrol scarcity, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, has threatened to halt operations due to the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, failing to pay approximately N200 billion in bridging debts owed to its members.

Black market vendors continued to profit, selling petrol in kegs and jerrycans for N1,200 per liter.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja, members of the IPMAN Depots Chairmen Forum expressed frustration that their efforts to obtain refunds for their petrol bridging claims from NMDPRA over the past two years have yielded minimal results.

The group’s spokesperson and Chairman of IPMAN Aba Depot, Maxi Oliver Okolo, stated that NMDPRA had failed to fully implement the directive issued by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, during a stakeholders meeting on February 20, 2024, which stipulated that marketers should be paid within a 40-day period.

According to him, “today, we have crossed the 40 days timeline given to the NMDPRA to clear the debt, and it is shameful to state that only the paltry sum of N13 billion has been paid, thus going the whole length to ignore our plight without remorse and without recourse to the Minister’s directive.

“Before now, we had taken the honourable path to continually seek explanation from the NMDPRA, on why he has blatantly refused to offset the remaining debt, but we have ceaselessly met brick walls.

“Secondly, we are not happy with the indiscriminate increment in the issuance and renewal of the Sales and Storage License, by the NMDPRA, and the subsequent delays in acquiring the license, which our members have been recently subjected to.

“As IPMAN members we are also calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to closely look into this unwholesome figure which is highly detrimental to our business and reverse it forthwith, as it is bound to impact negatively on the masses thereafter. We see no reason why there should be an increment of over 500 percent on the Sales and Storage License by the NMDPRA. This is outright wickedness, and therefore highly detrimental to our businesses. We totally reject it.

“We also hereby call on the federal government of Nigeria to wholly intervene forthwith in these lingering issues between the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

“We are poised to take far reaching decisions that may cripple the supply and sales of petroleum products across Nigeria, if our demands are not met within the shortest period of time. More so, this money in question that the marketers are asking for is our monies set aside, collected from us, and deducted from our own monies, to augment our transport fares.

“We are merely asking for the return of our money that is in the purse of the NMDPRA. It is not a matter of the government’s budget. NMDPRA has illegally taken our monies and this is the highest level of fraud”, the group added.

Alhaji Yahaya Alhassan, the Chairman of the IPMAN Depots Chairmen Forum, also called upon the Federal Government to intervene and guarantee that independent marketers have access to petrol from NNPC Limited depots, rather than being obligated to utilize private depots under the current arrangement.

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