The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani
Alison-Madueke, in Abuja yesterday appealed to oil marketers to shelve their
strike and allow Nigerians celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr.
The minister, who noted the queues at the filling stations
in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, pleaded with the tanker drivers to
resume transportation of the product to Abuja.
She said, the Federal Government was taking necessary steps
to address their grievances.
She assured the tanker drivers that the Ministry of Finance
would ensure that the situation was addressed and marketers paid their genuine
“ It’s with a great deal of concern that the Ministry of
Petroleum Resources has noticed the increasing queues at our filling stations,
particularly in Abuja.
“It is also very clear that the Ministry of Finance is
working very hard at this time to address the situation at hand and I will like
to appeal particularly to the marketers to please cooperate with the Federal
Government, particularly as we go into Eid-el-Fitr,’’ she said.
She, however, stressed that the hitch had nothing to do with
the non-availability of the product as the Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC) and the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) had
40 days strategic reserve.
“ I want to assure Nigerians that the NNPC and the PPMC have
no scarcity of products and that in fact we have 40 to 45 days stock in our
reserves at this time,” she said.
reports that fuel scarcity worsened in spite of the minister’s
assurances as the queues at most filling stations became longer.
It was gathered that only few stations were dispensing
petroleum products while others claimed they had run out of stock.
Most of the adjoining roads to the filling stations in Wuse,
Central Area and Garki were blocked as a result of the queues while the
operators of the black market had a field day.
Mr Tommy Ejembi, a financial consultant, said that he had
been waiting to get fuel since Wednesday to no avail and had to resort to
buying from the black market.
“I slept here through the night, I bought 10 litres from
fuel hawkers for N3,500, when a litre should ordinarily go for N97 for which we
are already crying. This is horrible, ‘’ he said.
Mr Adeyemi Oriloye, a commercial driver, also expressed
regret that he could not go home as he slept in his car over the night and said
the situation was negatively affecting his business.
“I slept here yesterday (Wednesday), I did not go home. I
slept in my car here. I reached here around 8p.m. and I slept here. Even in my
car, there is no fuel again.
“ I can’t take the car from here. Somebody bought 10 litres
of fuel here and he said it is N4,000 because there is no fuel. I moved round
all the filling stations yesterday (Wednesday) but could not get fuel,” he
Mr Adam Agboola, a legal practitioner, said that the
situation was frustrating.
“I just bought these 10 litres for N2,200 now. I paid N2,500
for the same quantity yesterday (Wednesday).
Another commercial driver, Mr Dickson Ogbu, also blamed the
government for not doing enough to avert the scarcity.
“I am very disappointed because we never expected it at all.
When I was coming out I saw many vehicles queuing but it was later I got to
understand that it was due to fuel scarcity.
“ And another thing is, if something like this wants to
happen, they should get people informed so that we can buy reserve fuel that
can last for two or three days, at least, let people be prepared,” Ogbu said.
A civil servant, Mr Emmanuel Ewwi, said it was sad that fuel
scarcity could come at a time like this.
“ I don’t know why at a time like this, when Muslims are
preparing for their celebration we have such a situation.
“And it came so sudden, I don’t know why our people should
go on strike, it is unfair, I think the government should look into it and
resolve it before it runs into the weekend,’’ Ewwi said.
It was however, gathered that the Minister of Finance and
Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was meeting with
some oil marketers to resolve the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
says the Federal Government was willing to dialogue with oil marketers over
payment of outstanding subsidy claims.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the
Economy, gave the assurance at a news conference yesterday in Abuja.
Her assurance came on the heels of the return of long fuel
queues in Abuja occasioned by oil marketers’ threat to suspend operations
nationwide within seven days over the continued delay in the payment of their
The minister said government was ready to dialogue with
marketers who had “little infractions’’ in the fuel subsidy regime.
She, however, warned that government would not succumb to
cheap blackmail of some marketers, who had threatened to embark on strike
because of delayed subsidy claims payment.
The minister noted that between April and August, the
Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.66 billion were issued to 31 oil
marketers, in respect of the 2012 fuel subsidy claims.
“There is no holding back or lack of willingness to pay for
those who have no case to answer.
“We are open, we will dialogue with them and we hope that
the dialogue will lead to a situation in which they will not be called upon to
undertake these actions that are being undertaken now.’’
reports that the Minister and other top officials of the ministry later
went into a closed door meeting with representatives of some marketers from
NEPCO Plc, Sahara Energy and Oando Plc.
“If you recall we had earlier released N404 billion; this
additional N300 billion brings the amount to N704 billion, which is about 53
per cent of the annual capital budget of N1.36 trillion,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala noted that with the N404 billion released at
the end of July, the 2012 budget utilisation rose from 56 per cent in June to
65.4 per cent in August.