The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says the
Federal Government is willing to dialogue with fuel 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 last week in Abuja.
Her assurance is coming 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 opened to dialogue with
marketers who had “little infractions’’ in the fuel subsidy regime.
She, however, warned that government would not succumb to
cheap blackmail by some marketers, who had threatened to embark on strike
because of delayed subsidy claims payment.
“Those whose infractions may be considered not so egregious,
we will be talking to them and if they are willing to talk to us, we will also
be willing to settle their claims and they can go on importing.
“But for some of those who are bent on blackmailing the
Federal Government even though they have committed very serious infractions in
the subsidy claim we are not willing to pay them when they have not cleared
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.’’
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.
Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Managing Director and CEO of
Access Bank, whose committee investigated and indicted some of the oil
marketers, took part in the closed door meeting.
Earlier, the Minister had told reporters that President
Goodluck Jonathan had ordered expedited payment of the August salary of Federal
Government workers ahead of the Eid-el-Fitri holidays on Monday and Tuesday.
“We are happy to announce that between today and tomorrow,
all those in the Federal payroll should be able to collect their salaries and
have a good holiday.
“This is based on the directive of Mr President,’’ she said.
Also, the minister told reporters that the third quarter
allocation of N300 billion had been released to Ministries, Department and
Agencies (MDAs) as part of the capital expenditure of the 2012 budget.
“We are pleased to announce the release of N300 billion for
the third quarter capital. I think that this demonstrates government’s
commitment to realising a significant level of budget implementation this year.
“In percentage terms, with this release we would now have
released N704 billion of capital expenditure.