By Udeme Akpan, Mike Eboh, Henry Umoru, Ediri Ejoh
LAGOS—THE Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, has denied owing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, N26.7 billion for fuel supplied.
Meanwhile, in a bid to end the ongoing fuel crisis and the untold hardship it is inflicting on Nigerians, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, directed the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with industry stakeholders.
Reacting to DAPPMA’s allegation that petrol was not supplied to its members, the NNPC, had accused DAPPMA members of distorting the facts in its claims that its members’ tanks and depots were empty.
It will be recalled that the NNPC, in a statement in Abuja by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, had described DAPPMA’s claims as unfortunate, stating that it had continued to supply the marketers huge quantities of the product despite the group’s N26.7 billion debts to its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, as at December 21, 2017.
Ughamadu had further accused DAPPMA of refusing to resume fuel imports, despite the concession granted the group by the Federal Government to obtain foreign exchange at the official rate of N305 to a dollar.
We’ve paid for fuel supplied — DAPPMA
But in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, yesterday, DAPPMA, said that members have paid for petrol supplied (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90 billion, yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them.
“The essence of our initial ‘press release’ was to throw light on salient issues surrounding the shortfall in current petrol supply which is presently solely handled by the NNPC. It was not an attempt to join issues with PPMC/NNPC with which we are partners.
“NNPC’s view of our press release stating our side of the story and seeking to defend marketers for the very first time, against the unwarranted accusations of hoarding and profiteering is rather unfortunate.
“It is an indisputable fact that DAPPMA members have paid for petrol supply (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90bn, yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such, how can we be held responsible for hoarding?
“PPMC/NNPC do not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit, hence we are not aware of any indebtedness to PPMC/NNPC by our members. We again reject any attempt to blame marketers for the shortfall in supply as it is not our making since NNPC has been the sole importer since October, 2017.
“Marketers have continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600bn debt owed our members and over N800bn owed marketers as a whole by the Federal Government. We assure Nigerians, irrespective of NNPC’s stance, that all possible steps are being taken as we have always done, to co-operate with PPMC/NNPC to eliminate the fuel queues nationwide within the next few days.”
Senate summons Kachikwu, NNPC, others
Meanwhile, in a bid to end the ongoing fuel crisis and the untold hardship it is presently unleashing on Nigerians, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, directed the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with industry stakeholders.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, who disclosed this in Abuja, said following the directive, the Committee has summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru and other relevant stakeholders in the petroleum sector to a crucial meeting on January 4, 2018.
He added that the meeting which will be held in the Senate Hearing Room 221 and its proceedings aired live on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, is meant to address the lingering fuel scarcity bedevilling the nation in the last few weeks with a view to stopping the unsavoury development.
The Senate, which is presently on Yuletide break, is billed to resume Committee work for budget defence on January 9 and commence plenary on January 16.
Investigations by Vanguard showed that supply of the product was yet to stabilise.
A visit to Apapa, Lagos, showed that four vessels, including Captain Gregory and Hafnia Magellan, were yesterday, discharging fuel, while nine other vessels were expected to berth in the coming days.
Consequently, many filling stations did not have the product to sell to motorists and other users, yesterday.
A visit to filling stations in Lagos and its environs, including Amukoko, Ajegunle and Festac, showed that long queues stretched to major roads.
The filling stations also sold the product at different prices between N145 and N220 per litre, depending on location.
Operations Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said his members have also paid billions of naira to NNPC, adding that many of them are yet to lift petrol.
Osatuyi said there was no loading of fuel in Ibadan depot in the past two weeks, adding that NNPC should focus on delivering the product to major independents, in order to assist in tackling the scarcity.
NNPC, DPR intensify raids
In a bid to curb diversion of petrol by unscrupulous marketers, the Joint Task Force on Fuel Distribution made up of NNPC, DPR and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has intensified clampdowns on illegal filling stations known for receiving diverted products and selling same to motorists at cut-throat prices in Abuja and environs.
So far, between yesterday and today, seven of such stations along the Kubwa and Airport Road axes of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have been raided, with the petrol found in their storage tanks dispensed free to motorists by the members of the Joint Task Force led by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru.
Speaking during the raid on an unnamed filling station in Byazhini Community, Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, which was caught red-handed selling petrol at N250 per litre, the GMD said such stations are being used to divert products meant for legal filling stations and warned all such illegal marketers to desist from being used to sabotage the efforts the government to make fuel available to all Nigerians at the approved price.
Meanwhile, the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Mr Mordecai Ladan, yesterday, assured Nigerians that the lingering scarcity of petrol will soon come to an end.
Ladan gave the assurance after an inspection of some private depots within Apapa axis in Lagos.
According to him, “I can confirm to you that products are coming in gradually in most of the depots visited; some are being discharged while there is assurance that more products will soon come again within the next 48 hours.
“I think with all we have seen now in the depots visited, petrol should be available in all filling stations across the country in a few days time.”
The DPR inspection team visited Folawiyo Energy Limited and NIPCO tank farms in Apapa.
At Folawiyo, Mr Dipo Makanjuola said the depot has about six million litres of petrol and has been operating 24 hours to ensure that Nigerians get the product.
Makanjuola said the product belonged to NNPC and they were loading the product according to the directive of the corporation.
According to him, “the last time we received the product from NNPC was on December 23 and that is what we are loading. We hope to get another supply by Saturday.”
At NIPCO, a vessel was discharging over 23 million litres of petroleum as at the time DPR reached the tank farm.
Mr Taofeek Lawal, the Head, Corporate Communications of NIPCO said about 600 trucks of petrol that was given to NIPCO have been scheduled for loading to marketers.
Lawal said with 23 million litres of petrol, the company would load over 600 petroleum tankers in three days, adding that NNPC had assured the company that another vessel will arrive on Saturday.
He assured the team that the company would work tirelessly to ensure that scarcity of petrol ease out in few days.