Fuel queues’ll disappear by weekend – FG

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Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala

The Federal Government on Wednesday assured
Nigerians that the current petrol scarcity being
experienced in many parts of the country would
be over before the end of the week.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala, stated this shortly after meeting with
members of the Major Oil Marketers Association
of Nigeria.
The meeting, held at the headquarters of the
Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, was also
attended by the Governor of the Central Bank of
Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, representatives of
the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory
Agency and depot owners.
The minister said all the contentious issues with
the marketers such as the foreign exchange
rate differentials and payment of subsidy arrears
had been addressed by the Federal
Government.
She said while the details of the payment of the
exchange rate differentials had been agreed, the
government was already in the process of
offsetting the N185bn debt owed the marketers
with the issuance of the Sovereign Debt Note.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “In the next few days, the
queues will dissipate; the situation will be
addressed and everything will return to normal.
“At the Federal Executive Council meeting
today, the issue was discussed in terms of
pushing forward and making sure that things get
back to normal.”
She said while briefing State House
correspondents after the weekly Federal
Executive Council meeting that after proper
briefings on the causes of the current scarcity
of petrol and solutions, President Goodluck
Jonathan gave specific instructions on how to
deal with the matter because he wanted prompt
and quick action to improve the situation as fast
as possible.
She insisted that the scarcity was caused by a
number of factors, including the depreciation of
the naira.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “We discussed that (fuel
scarcity) at the FEC because Mr. President
wanted prompt and quick action to improve the
situation as fast as possible. So, after the
briefing and discussion on both the financial and
physical side, what emanated is that this
situation we hope will soon be resolved,
because on the financial side, action has been
taken and it is being implemented through the
Ministry of Finance and the governor of the
CBN.
“Let it be known that in December, we paid
N320.2bn to marketers to settle their claims.
We have now approved through the Petroleum
Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency about
N185bn to be paid to the marketers through
sovereign debt notes, which is tantamount to
having government guarantee that they will be
paid.
“But the long and short of the matter is that the
financial issue has been taken care of. The
physical quantity is being loaded to be brought
to Abuja and Lagos and other cities that are
suffering so that hopefully tomorrow (Thursday)
or next (Friday), we should begin to see these
queues reduce as supplies arrive up to
Saturday; we hope that Abuja will be cleared.
“So, the summary is that the FEC is concerned
about the matter and discussed it; and beyond
discussing it, the President gave instruction on
how to deal with it so that physical quantities
will be available and the queues will diminish so
that by the end of the week, we will have a
situation that is clarified.”
Emefiele, who also spoke with journalists after
the meeting with the marketers, said the CBN
had met with banks and oil marketers to resolve
all the contending issues associated with credit
facilities.
He stated that in the past one week, over
$500m Letters of Credit had been opened by
Deposit Money Banks on behalf of the
marketers.
The governor called on marketers who were
experiencing delays in getting their Letters of
Credit to alert the CBN, promising to step in and
ensure that the issue was resolved amicably.
Speaking on behalf of the oil marketers, the
Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi
Olawore, stated that the queues of desperate
motorists at filling stations would ease off in the
next few days, noting that the marketers had
already moved 495 truckloads of fuel to Lagos,
Abuja and environs.
He said, “On Monday, the major marketers
moved 132 truckloads of fuel to Lagos, while 87
truckloads were moved to Abuja, and this is
exclusive to the quantity moved by the NNPC,
independent marketers and other marketers.
“On Tuesday, 137 trucks were moved to Lagos,
while 139 trucks were moved to Abuja. You can
see that the amount we moved to Abuja was far
more than the quantity we moved on Monday. It
normally takes between three and four days to
transport fuel from Lagos to Abuja; hence we
believe the queues will ease off by the weekend,
latest.”
“Our actions are deliberate to ensure that the
queues vanish and normalcy returns. I want to
tell Nigerians that tougher days are over;
normalcy is expected to return pretty soon.”
Olawore denied speculations in some quarters
that the marketers were being sponsored by
opposition parties to discredit the government,
noting that the association was apolitical in its
dealings with the government.
Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum
Resources has in the last one week shut 26
filling stations in Benue and Nasarawa states for
selling petrol above the regulated pump price of
N87 per litre, while also applying sanctions on
other errant marketers.
The DPR Controller in charge of the two states,
Abdullahi Isa, said this while speaking with
journalists in his office in Makurdi on
Wednesday.
Isa lamented that instead of getting about 20
trucks daily, Benue was now getting just four.
He warned that any filling station that failed to
sell the product at the approved pump price and
also indulged in other sharp practices such as
hoarding would be sanctioned.
In Abuja, the scarcity of the product led to a
fight among motorists who were on a queue at
the Total filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa,
a suburb settlement.
Trouble started around 2.30pm when the owner
of a white Toyota Corolla car jumped the queue
and made straight for the gate of the station.
His action outrage the hundreds of motorists on
the queue, many of whom claimed to have
spent over eight hours on the queue.

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