There are strong indications that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may sought relieve from the nation’s strategic reserve estimated at N94.5 billion worth of PMS (petrol) to cushion the effect of the current fuel scarcity nationwide.
The NNPC says the nation has enough stock of petrol in Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar to service the country for 27 days at a national consumption rate of 40 million litres per day even as it has stepped up other efforts to end the distribution challenges in the fuel supply system.
NNPC blamed the current scarcity on the strike action by the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) who have refused to lift petroleum products from the coastal depots in protest of the huge amounts they are being owed by the major marketers.
“We are however, working towards a speedy resolution of the issues to ensure a hitchfree distribution of products across the country”, the Corporation stated in a statement. It appealed to NARTO and PTD to call off the strike in the interest of the country and not unleash unnecessary hardship on Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it had paid N156 billion debt to oil marketers in line with its commitment to prioritise payments in spite of revenue constraints. The Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the payment had two components comprising `I Owe You’ (IOU), given in March and interest on payment.
“The first consists of the cash backing of the N100 billion IOU which the marketers were given in March. The second is N56 billion in interest payments for the marketers according to the PPPRA template. This leaves a balance of N98 billion certified by PPPRA as the amount owed the marketers,” she said She explained that the N156 billion was the latest in a series of significant payments made to the oil marketers within the last five months. She explained that these included over N300 billion in two instalments in December last year and N31 billion in interest differentials recently.
She said in all, oil marketers had received over N500 billion within the past five months. Okonjo-Iweala urged the marketers to appreciate the efforts being made by the government to meet up with their payments. “The Federal Government has made maximum effort, inspite of the wellknown fact that the fall in oil prices has significantly reduced national revenues, to prioritise payments to marketers. For the sake of Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of fuel scarcity, the marketers should reciprocate in the spirit of dialogue and co-operation in which we have always tried to engage them,” she said.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said the Association appreciates the gesture and commended the Federal Government for fulfilling its promises.
Olawore, however, said the association will not take any corresponding action until its members receive payment alert from their respective banks. The MOMAN scribe said the association was ready to commence importation and distribution of fuel to end the suffering of Nigerians at fuel stations once the money hit their accounts. He emphasised that the members will not work with any paper promise without cash backing.