10 December 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has approved the immediate payment of N407 billion ($2.1 billion) owed to fuel importers under a subsidy scheme, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, has approved the payment of N407 billion for “subsidy claims to oil marketers”, said Marshall Gundu, a spokesman for her ministry.
“The president has directed that payments be made immediately in order to bring to a quick end the lingering fuel crisis,” said Gundu.
Fears of a fuel scarcity prompted Nigerians to resort to panic-buying in the last few weeks, forming long queues at petrol stations in major cities.
Some of the money to be paid to importers dates back to 2014 and this is the first significant payment since Buhari came to power in May.
A severe fuel crisis crippled the country in May because of a standoff between importers and the outgoing administration led by Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, over whether their debts would be honoured.
President Buhari has said he is keen to revive the nation’s oil and gas industry, which has been benighted by corruption and a dilapidated refining system which has led to reliance on imports for most of its gasoline requirement.
In the meantime, oil firms bringing in subsidised imports have struggled to finance their purchases with low dollar availability and shrinking credit lines.