Fuel Scarcity Looms
OpenLife Nigeria reports that the unending controversies and crises arising from the removal of oil subsidy as assumed another dimension as Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum on Thursday cried out over an unpaid whopping sum of N250 billion bridging claims saying as a result of the circumstances, quite a number of its members were running out of business that which could consequently lead to fuel scarcity in some parts of the country.
The Chairman of the forum, Musa Yahya Maikifi who made this known during a review meeting in Kano, said the situation has rendered its members handicapped as they could not afford to transport and supply the petroleum product for sale at various outlets.
He said the over N250 billion outstanding bridging claims that had not been paid by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA for the period of one year.
According to him, “the money would be used by the members of the forum to sustain the business, noting that, “failure to access the fund would have adverse effects on the entire northern states,” Maikifi said.
Similarly, Secretary of the forum, Jarma Mustapha, said there were lots of outstanding bridging claims since the time of the defunct Petroleum Equalization Fund but the money had not been paid to them.
“We have outstanding bridging claims up to the day when the end of the deregulation was announced by the new President. As the new deregulation regime started now, we are faced with difficulties such as lack of capacity, and lack of capital to continue our business because most of our capital was hanged with the defunct Petroleum Equalization Fund.
“We are now calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene so that the whole of our outstanding claims, up to the 30th May 2023, when the new deregulation was announced, should be paid for our members to continue getting enough capital to continue being in business.
“Today, the capital you need to have one truck of the product before has multiplied by four to have the same number of trucks now. Now you will need N27 million to buy one truck.
“Almost all of our members are going out of business. Based on that, we are appealing to the President to intervene, talk to the authorities concerned to immediately pay all our outstanding claims,” Mustapha appealed.
He explained that “the money used to pay for the bridging claims is the one contributed by the consumers, which is collected by the marketers, pay to NNPC, NNPC collects and pays into the collective fund of the Equalization Fund.
“That money is not budgeted, which is financed by the government. It is financed by the consumers through the marketers, basically to equalize prices across the country,” he explained.
The Secretary said the forum would follow diplomatic means to get the money paid to it, noting that if all their efforts for a diplomatic approach prove abortive, the forum does not know how to control its members if they deem fit to take action.
“We will follow diplomatic means to access the fund but we cannot guarantee you that the diplomatic means will be sustainable. We don’t know how to control our members. It is incumbent on the government to look at the situation, consider our support to the deregulation policies and do the needful.
“As business people, we do not go on strike but if the situation persists, we will just withdraw our services, which we do not pray for such to happen,” the forum Secretary, Mustapha however stated.