Uche Usim and Adewale Sanyaolu
Petroleum marketers have threatened to down tools across all depots in protest against the inability of the Federal government to clear their backlog of about N800billion subsidy arrear.
The marketers, under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPI), said the debt was disrupting the smooth operations of their businesses.
To match their words with action, they have issued the Federal government a seven-day ultimatum to settle all outstanding debts or else they would shut down operations.
Confirming the seven-day notice, Mr. Patrick Etim, Legal Adviser to IPPI, decried the failure of the government to settle the debts, lamenting that banks had taken over the assets of the oil marketers that took loans to import products under the fuel subsidy scheme.
He lamented that the marketers found it hard to pay the banks following their inability to get reimbursement from the government.
Etim said: “The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of the promissory note being proposed.
“As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances were received by the government, saying it would pay off the outstanding debts.
“The oil marketers have requested that forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketers be calculated up to December 2018 and be paid within next seven days from the date of the letter sent to the government,” he said.
Etim said that several thousand jobs were on the line in the industry, as oil marketers begin to cut-down their workforce due to their inability to pay salaries.
“At the inception of the current administration, the marketers engaged the government with a view to securing approval for all outstanding subsidy-induced debts handed over to the current administration,” he said.
The lawyer said that the current administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differential still pending.
The Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, also confirmed the seven-day ultimatum notice.
Adewole disclosed that the oil marketers on November 28, served the ultimatum letter on the Debt Management Office, Minister of Finance, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Department of State Services and Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
“We urge the DMO to process and pay marketers in cash for their outstanding forex differentials and interest component claims, together with the amount already approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Assembly.”