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Fuel scarcity: Reps express concerns over perennial, persistent fuel scarcity, summon Petroleum Minister

…As marketers threaten shutdown over N200bn debt, want direct access to NNPC depots

The Minister of Petroleum Resources and all relevant stakeholders in the Petroleum industry have been summoned to appear before the House of Representatives.

The summoned, are to brief Nigerians on the measures put in place to end the current fuel scarcity and avert its reoccurrence in the future.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion of Urgent Public Importance on “The Need To Address The Lingering Fuel Scarcity And Rising Retail Prices Of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Across Nigeria”, by Rep. Umar Shehu Ajilo on Tuesday at plenary.

The motion reads: “Worried by the lingering fuel scarcity accompanied by excessive increase in retail price of Premium Motor Spirit in filling stations across the country which has no doubt occasioned additional hardship to the Nigerian citizens.

“Concerned that this fuel scarcity is coming at a time when the adverse economic effect caused by subsidy removal and soaring inflation is yet to be addressed by the government, not to mention the deteriorating income of the Nigerian masses.

“Further concerned that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd is yet to address this perennial and persistent fuel scarcity problem faced by Nigerians despite the volume of resources at its disposal.

“Most worrisome that all these economic quagmires have made the lives of average Nigerians unbearable with a litre of fuel selling as much as N1200 in some states of the Federation.

“This 10th Assembly must rise to the occasion to ensure that lasting measures are taken to address this unfortunate and embarrassing situation permanently in the interest of all Nigerians”.

Mr. Ajilo prayed the House to invite the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and all relevant stakeholders in the Petroleum industry to appear before the assembly and brief Nigerians on the measures put in place to end the current fuel scarcity and avert its reoccurrence in the future.

Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, has threatened to shut down operations over failure by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, to pay about N200 billion bridging debts owed its members.

Checks around the Federal Capital Territory and Abuja city centre Tuesday showed that the shortage in petrol supply had not eased as several filling stations remained shut with long queues seen at the few outlets opened to the public.

Black marketers continued to have a field day, selling the product in kegs and jerrycans for N1,200 per litre.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja, members of IPMAN Depots Chairmen Forum said all efforts made to get NMDPRA to refund their petrol bridging claims in the last two years have yielded very little result.

The Spokesman of the group and Chairman of IPMAN Aba Depot, Mazi Oliver Okolo said NMDPRA has failed to implement in full the directive by the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), senator Heineken Lokpobiri during a stakeholder meeting on February 20, 2024, that the marketers should be paid with 40-day period.

According to him, “today, we have crossed the 40-day 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.

The Chairman of IPMAN Depots Chairmen Forum, Alhaji Yahaya Alhassan also asked the Federal Government to intervene and ensure that independent marketers are able to obtain petrol from NNPC Limited depots against the current arrangement where independent marketers were compelled to patronize private depots.

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