Deduct N27bn from $2bn you owe us, marketers tell FG as Senate panel summons Kachikwu, Baru, others

oil marketers in nigeria

Oil marketers on Thursday asked the Federal Government to deduct the N27bn they owed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from the $2bn that it owed them.

The marketers stated that the petrol scarcity being experienced across the country would have been averted if the NNPC had listened to their warnings in October that there was a drop in supply of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
On Wednesday, the NNPC attacked the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association over the statement by DAPPMA that its members had no petrol in their tanks despite the corporation’s claims of importing millions of litres of petrol.

The national oil firm also stated that DAPPMA members owed it the sum of N26.7bn for products received from it, adding that the statement credited to the association on the fuel supply situation, especially PMS, was very unfortunate.

But while speaking on a television programme monitored by our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, asked the government to deduct the marketers’ debt from the $2bn it owed the oil dealers.

He said, “I know they (NNPC) were referring to DAPPMA, but talking about who is owing who, this is all about trade; we are always buying from the NNPC to sell. So sometimes, we owe and other times we are in credit, but the truth is that the government is owing us.

“And we have agreed with the government since June that when you (government) are going to pay us, deduct whatever we are owing you. Collectively, marketers in the industry are owed close to $2bn, so you can’t compare it to N27bn. It is not only the NNPC that we are owing.”

He added, “We owe other government agencies, but we are saying that let’s start from the biggest and that is the fuel subsidy, the interest and the foreign exchange. We’ve done several reconciliations supervised by the Chief of Staff (to the President) and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“So nobody is saying we are not owing, rather the government is owing us more and they should pay us and deduct whatever we are owing them.”

When asked why oil marketers were hoarding and diverting petrol as claimed by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, the MOMAN spokesman stated, “I wish we could meet face-to-face and I will tell him (Baru) when the problem started and when we started warning.
“I’d stated in the past that if you leave the NNPC as the sole importer of products, you will get to a point where the slightest shock will create a problem. The truth must be told, they (NNPC) are just getting the supply in some appreciable quantities. The supply dropped in October up until some two, three weeks ago; that’s the truth!”

Olawore added, “Supply into the system dropped and somebody must own up to this. I’m not here to pass any blame; we are here to see how we can solve the problem and after that, we can sit at the table to look at what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. But we all saw it coming.

“We saw it coming and we said it that your suppliers are defaulting; they are not supplying enough.”

NNPC lied, we didn’t owe it – DAPPMA

Meanwhile, DAPPMA on Thursday accused the NNPC of lying when it claimed that its members owed the national oil firm N26.7bn.

According to DAPPMA, its members have in the past one month paid over N90bn for petrol supply but have yet to receive any cargo from the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.

The Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said it was unfortunate for the national oil firm to attack and accuse marketers falsely.

In a statement signed by Adewole on Thursday, the association said, “It is an undisputable 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 the PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such how can we be held responsible for hoarding?

“The PPMC/NNPC does not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit; hence, we are not aware of any indebtedness to the 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 the NNPC has been the sole importer since October 2017.”

Adewole said marketers had continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600bn debt owed DAPPMA members and over N800bn owed the different marketers’ groups as a whole by the Federal Government.

He stated, “The essence of our initial press release was to shed 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 the PPMC/NNPC with whom we are partners.

“The 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.”

The association, however, assured Nigerians that all possible steps were being taken to cooperate with the PPMC/NNPC to eliminate fuel queues nationwide in the next few days.

Amidst the confusion, queues by motorists for petrol in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna failed to disappear, as some filling stations were said to be collecting illegal “gate fees” before allowing vehicles to drive in to purchase PMS.

In Lagos, the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Mordecai Ladan, commended the load-out history of Nipco Plc since the resurgence of petrol scarcity across the country, with the firm increasing the trucking of the product across the country.

The DPR boss, who made an unscheduled visit to the Nipco terminal in Apapa on Thursday, said he was impressed with the load-out and the assurances by the company’s management on hitch-free product loading as supplies from the NNPC improved significantly.

Mordecai, who was received by the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Suresh Kumar, and the Chief Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Taofeek Lawal, said his team was on tour of depots to ascertain the availability of product stocks.

Earlier, Lawal had informed the DPR team that the company had in stock 17,000 metric tonnes of petrol or approximately about 23 million litres courtesy of supply by the NNPC via the Apapa jetty on Wednesday.

 Senate summons Kachikwu, NNPC GMD, others

In a bid to end the ongoing fuel crisis and the untold hardship it is presently unleashing on Nigerians, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday directed the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with industry stakeholders.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who disclosed this in Abuja, said following the directive, the panel had summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Group Managing Director, NNPC, Baru; and other relevant stakeholders in the petroleum sector to a crucial meeting on Thursday, 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, was meant to address the lingering fuel scarcity bedevilling the nation in the last few weeks with a view to putting a complete stop to the unsavoury development.

The Senate, which is presently on Christmas and New Year break, is billed to resume committee work for the defence of the 2018 budget on January 9, and commence plenary on January 16.

NNPC, DPR clamp down on filling stations

Officials of the NNPC, DPR and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Thursday caught officials of some illegal filling stations known for receiving diverted products and selling same to motorists at exorbitant prices in Abuja and environs.

According to the NNPC, seven of such stations along the Kubwa and Airport roads in the Federal Capital Territory were caught in the act on Wednesday and Thursday.

The corporation said the petrol found in their various storage tanks were dispensed free to motorists by members of the team led by Baru.

“I want to warn marketers who have refused to heed our advice, especially those operating at night, that the law will catch up with them very soon. The NSCDC has commenced monitoring of such stations. On Tuesday, we identified some defaulting stations and we are going to impound their products and dispense them free to motorists,” Baru said.

Reps surprised pump price increase hasn’t solved scarcity

The House of Representatives said on Thursday that it was surprised that petrol scarcity resurfaced in the country after the Federal Government’s decision in 2016 to raise the pump price to N145 a litre.

The House recalled that the government’s reason for raising the price from N87 to N145 was to make the product easily available and discourage marketers from manipulating the distribution system.

It reviewed the hardships Nigerians had faced in the past days and observed that it seemed there were systemic challenges that the government must address urgently.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, who spoke exclusively with The PUNCH in Abuja, stated that the legislature felt the pains of Nigerians and gave the assurance that it would support any urgent proposals by the government to end the scarcity quickly.

He said, “We are surprised that the last fuel price increase from N87 to N145 has not solved the problem of scarcity. We were told that the solution was to increase the pump price and we supported the executive’s proposal.

“It appears that there are more system issues than the pump price increase, which we supported in 2016. However, we are always ready as a legislature to support any proposal that the government thinks will lead to solutions and reduce the hardships being faced by our people.”

Namdas added that since the scarcity of the product resurfaced, the government had not communicated its challenges to the legislature.

He explained that in the circumstances, the legislature believed that the executive was handling the matter the best way it could to end the suffering of Nigerians.

He stated, “Normally, the executive will inform us that there is a problem. In this present case, they have yet to tell us that there is a problem that they cannot handle.

“They told us that increasing the pump price was the solution. We are surprised that despite the last price increase, scarcity is here with us again.”
Namdas stated that the House believed encouraging local refining and making the country’s four refineries work would address the scarcity of fuel on a permanent basis.