BY CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA — THE Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, yesterday blamed the lingering nationwide fuel scarcity on the failure of the Federal Government to pay marketers for petrol imported into the country in the third and fourth quarters of last year.
President of IPMAN, Abdulkadir Aminu who disclosed while addressing members at the expanded meeting of national executive and zonal coordinators in Abuja, said also that the current contraction in the supply of the products is a result of none payment of marketers subsidy.
Aminu warned that the current fuel scarcity will not decline because there was a supply gap due to the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which is now the sole importer of fuel can only supply 50 percent of the country needs.
According to him, “we are been owe Q3 subsidy payment, which is last year, another Q4 and Q1 pilling up to about 9 months unpaid subsidy to marketers. We need to be paid this money because we are in business.”
He explained that why NNPC could continue to import was because it is an agency of government but private marketers could not do so because of liquidity issues.
While calling on the Ministry of Finance to commence payment immediately to allow marketers import the product, Aminu said, “shortage in supply today is as a result of non-payment of marketers’ oil subsidy; partly Q3, Q4 completely not paid and we are in Q1. For our national consumption today, NNPC supply 50 per cent of the national consumption.
“I want to reveal to all of you here today that it is only that 50 per cent of NNPC product that is in circulation. They have stepped up their supply, trying to do what every stakeholder is doing but it is evidently clear that they cannot do it alone.
“I therefore use this medium to appeal to the minister of finance as a matter of urgency to intervene and pay marketers accordingly so that the augmentation of this shortfall can be achieved in a short while and this scarcity will be a thing of the past.
“We are talking about major fracture in the system. Only 60 per cent of Q3 subsidy claims has been paid. The whole of Q4 has not been paid and we are in Q1. I am aware that there are some companies with a large heart and they are still importing. We have NIPCO still importing in Apapa and they have brought in their Q3, Q4 and 50 per cent their Q1 but they cannot continue.
“Once you cannot access product then all other issues becomes minor and secondary because what is important is that there should be smooth supply of petroleum product. If there is interruption at the source then whatever effort you are doing down is useless.
“Definitely there are problems of payment and until that is addressed then the other minor issues can be looked into and that is the truth. The way out is for the Ministry of Finance to act as quickly as possible because there is nobody that will do a job that is not being paid and you do the second one and the third and it is not paid. I am sure he will not do the fourth one.
“The government should commence payment of part of that Q3, the full Q4 and Q1 with that NNPC pressure will be reduced because NNPC from the design of the template at PPPRA they are only supplying 50 percent of this product, while the rest of us argument the balance of the other 50 percent.
“Now if NNPC can continue to supply because they are part of government, marketers cannot because of our limitation of liquidity. We have done our best, the whole of Q4 have not been paid, and we managed to struggle into Q1. Now Q1 is about finishing there is no payment”, he added.
Aminu noted that the accusation by the Minister of Petroleum of product diversion does not hold waters as all diversions are legal as far as they are within the country.
“On the diversion that is taking place, I want to define it, there is no diversion that is taking place that is illegal. All are legal diversion, if make product available to Abuja and you have not made product available to Kano, Kaduna and Nassarawa what do you expect? For them to come to queue in Abuja?”.