BY CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA – Worried by the lingering scarcity of fuel which is crippling economic activities, the Director General of Department of Security Service, DSS, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong has summoned stakeholders involved in the petroleum products distribution with a view to finding a lasting solution to the perennial fuel scarcity.
The SSS it was learnt in Abuja, summoned the Managing Director, Pipeline Product Marketing Company, PPMC, Prince Haruna Momoh and the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, with a viewing to resolving the leadership crisis in Independent Marketers Association Nigeria, IPMAN.
The current product scarcity as learnt was linked to the threat of strike issued by the former President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Aminu Abdulkadir, over the leadership crisis rocking the organisation.
But the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG Comrade Igwe Achise has urged Nigerians to disregard the threat of strike issued by the former President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN,Mr. Aminu Abdulkadir, as he does not possess the constitutional powers to declare a strike.
Comrade Igwe Achise, while addressing newsmen in Abuja, disclosed that due to the SSS intervention, there is a high hope of resolving the crisis between now and Tuesday.
Igwe however declared that NUPENG does not have any hand in the lingering scarcity of petroleum products across the country, as none of its members or chapters across the country was on strike.
According to him, “after the intervention of the MD of PPMC, the Department of Security Service, DSS- DG SSS and we have been able to look at these issues critically again, where we have been assured that the lingering crisis in IPMAN will be given the utmost emergency attention needed to resolve those leadership issues as soon as possible and we are believing that between now, Monday, Tuesday, this issue of the leadership will be resolved.
“We have also read through the media that Aminu the former president has finally moved out of office and decided to go and form an association that does not have bearing with the judgement given by competent court of jurisdiction.”
He explained that the crisis in IPMAN was due to the movement by the outgoing President Alhaji Aminu Abdulkadir to continue staying in office despite a court judgement that has pronounced the emergence of his successor.
According to him, the union withdrew its services from the Nigeria Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO) because its owners Independent IPMAN were involved in fraudulent demand for fuel subsidy claim.
He noted that: “If that crisis persists, there is no need we keep our services in NIPCO since IPMAN is the major owner of the investment of the commercial out fit. I think that will be a big way of addressing these challenges.”
On whether NUPENG cannot sanction IPMAN for the allegedly insisting on collecting fuel subsidy money without supply, Achise said :”NIPCO example is part of those sanctions we can take in withdrawing our services from the depot if found that they are having some fraudulent activities at the ongoing in their environment . The allegation is true.”
The NUPENG boss explained that in as much as petroleum products are imported, products are bound to be scarce.
He revealed that since the refineries are not functioning, the nation is at the mercy of the marketers, who also own the private depots to whom the Federal Government has assigned to import petroleum products.
“Petroleum products are scarce because Nigeria is still depending majorly on importation of petroleum products. And that importation is mortgaged into the hands of marketers, who are also private depot owners and importers. Our refineries are not functioning.
“They are epileptic in production and that cannot sustain this country. And that is why we find ourselves were we are today in term of the scarcity,” he said.
Asked whether deregulation of the refineries is not the best option, Achise said that to deregulate the downstream of the oil and gas sector is a must.
He however added a caveat, that the Federal Government would not be fair to the citizenry to deregulate the sector with reliance on fuel importation.
“What is affecting our refineries today is because of the system that is surrounding the refinery operations.
“We need to do a turn around maintenance of the refineries for us to make it work effectively. The Port-Harcourt Refineries we agreed on this last year with the Ministry of Petroleum. It failed. The next one, he said by first quarter of next year picked up. First quarter has gone and it has gone. So, must we continue to remain in this kind of shadow?”