17 November 2015, Lagos – The scarcity of petrol in Abuja, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Nasarawa and Kaduna states, among others, is growing worse by the day, as hundreds of motorists spent several hours in queues at filling stations on Monday in a bid to get the product.
Some marketers of petroleum products told one of our correspondents on Monday that the Central Bank of Nigeria had refused to honour the Sovereign Debt Notes obtained by them from the Debt Management Office for the settlement of the N413bn subsidy arrears by the Federal Government.
The CBN’s inaction, according to two marketers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is as a result of the delay by the National Assembly to approve of the payment of the N413bn subsidy debt.
The Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had last week said President Muhammadu Buhari was seeking the approval of the National Assembly to pay the money approved last week for the oil marketers.
The Executive Secretary, Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Monday that no marketer had received anything from the CBN as subsidy arrears.
He said the marketers were optimistic that the money would be paid, but stressed, “Even if the money is paid to us and the CBN does not provide the requisite foreign exchange, we are not going anywhere.”
Adewole also confirmed that the SDNs from the marketers were not being honoured, but declined to comment further.
However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Monday absolved itself from blame for the prolonged fuel scarcity in many parts of the country.
According to the corporation, the scarcity is not as a result of its inability to meet demand, saying it had products available to depots that were receiving supplies from its subsidiary, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company.
The national oil firm made available the daily dispatch report of petrol to filling stations across the country.
Prior to sending the report, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, had told one of our correspondents that the firm had made it clear that there were enough products to keep the country wet for most part of this month.
He stated that the country was also expecting products before the end of November, adding that when they arrive, there would be enough petrol to last for additional days.
When asked to explain why there was still scarcity despite claims of product availability, Alegbe said, “I’m going to send you the daily supply to all the stations nationwide, I’ve asked that we should get the one for yesterday (Sunday) and we will send it to you.
“This is to let you know that we are fulfilling our own part of the bargain. So, if there is any case of fuel diversion observed by anybody, then we can go to town with that.”
On whether the scarcity was due to the non-payment of the N413bn subsidy claims to the marketers, he stated that it was the duty of the National Assembly to appropriate such funds.
“It is for the National Assembly to appropriate it. And this is because you cannot spend without appropriation by the National Assembly. The approval has been given by the President and that’s the situation,” Alegbe explained.
In the report on the dispatch of petrol to filling stations, the NNPC stated that 179 outlets received 7.18 million litres of the product from the Suleja Depot on November 14 and 15.
It stated that 59 filling stations got 2.47 million litres from the Kaduna Depot on both days, while 107 outlets received 4.93 million litres from the Kano Depot; six got 224,986 litres from the Minna Depot; and 60 others got 2.31 million litres from the Gusau Depot.
A total of 63 petrol stations under the Satellite Depot received 2.16 million litres; nine under the Ilorin Depot got 303,000 litres; three under the Ore Depot received 11,000 litres; 21 under the Ibadan Depot got 766,007 litres; 78 in the Gombe area received 3.66 million litres; while 30 in the Aba area received 917,970 litres of petrol.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, on Monday in Kaduna asked the Federal Government to resolve the lingering fuel scarcity, which had crippled social and economic activities across the country before December.
He noted that should the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government fails to arrest the scarcity before next month, labour would be forced to take action in the interest of Nigerians.
Wabba did not, however, say what the organised labour would do if the government fails to address the problem before the time.