Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Godwin Oritse
21 January 2013, Sweetcrude,LAGOS — THE Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Eastern Zone, has said that it was not possible to sell Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, at the government approved N97 per litre in the South-East.
The association said this was because it buys the product at N105 from private tank owners.
The zonal acting chairman, Mr. Chukwudi Ezinwa, stated this, weekend, in Calabar, Cross River State. Speaking on the state of the petroleum sector, Ezinwa lamented that only three of the 21 depots in Nigeria were functioning but at below 50 per cent capacity.
He said: “We cannot sell N97 per litre while we are buying at N105 from private tank owners, pay transport and other loading expenses. It cannot work.”
However, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, through its Acting General Secretary, Mr. Isaac Aberare, has expressed shock at the statement.
Abarere who spoke to Vanguard, said it was a challenge on the Federal Government to rise up to its responsibilities to the citizens and ensure that PMS remained at the official price of N97.00 nationwide.
Illegal activities of private tank owners IPMAN also called on the government to check the illegal activities of private tank owners, who he said were fleecing its members, saying plans were underway for it to meet with relevant government institutions including the National Assembly to demand for proper action against the alleged illegal activities.
He dismissed rumours that his members were hoarding products, declaring that “IPMAN does not own refineries or depots, so we cannot hoard products to suffer Nigerians .You cannot give what you do not have.”
Ezinwa said that part of the problems of fuel scarcity was that the country currently has 21 oil depots across the country but only three were working, although, at below 50 per cent capacity.
He advocated for the involvement of state governments in the security of oil pipelines that pass through their domains, saying the take-over of monitoring and securing of oil pipelines in their domains was the best way of curbing crude oil vandalism and oil theft in the country.
He added that “IPMAN is ready to partner with them in this regard and this will go a long way to reducing vandalism of pipelines and oil theft by unscrupulous elements in the country.”
IPMAN not against removal of oil subsidy
Ezinwa also said that IPMAN was not against removal of oil subsidy by the Federal Government, but that government should put in place measures that would make it work.
He said: “What we are saying is that, before you remove subsidy, you must put in place necessary measures to make it work.
And one of the conditions was that all the refineries and government depots must work at full capacity.”
He said that removal of oil subsidy without government refineries or government depots working was capable of creating social insecurity and confusion in Nigeria.
NUPENG expresses shock
According to Acting General Secretary of NUPENG, Mr. Aberare, if IMPAN was saying members could no longer sell at official price at N97.00 in the South-East, it meant that they were getting the product higher than N97. He declared however that if the subsidy regime could not address their concern, then, something was wrong with subsidy regime.
Aberare said: “If they are saying they can no longer sell at the official price of N97, it means they are sourcing the product at a very high rate. In that case, we call on government to live up to its responsibilities to the Nigerian citizens and make the product available to Nigerians nationwide at the official price.
“Another issue is what happens to the subsidy regime? Does it not cover those in the South-East? We know the government has issues with subsidy regime especially payment of subsidy claims to marketers.
This should not be an excuse to inflict pains on a section of the country because they are only talking about South-East.
“Whatever the reasons that are making IPMAN members to come out and say they can no longer sell at N97 should be addressed by the appropriate agencies as soon as possible.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that has continued to boast that there will not be scarcity of product, should ensure that the people of the South-East do not suffer unnecessarily.”
N97 is official pump price, DPR insists
Meanwhile, a source from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, insisted that N97 was the official pump price for PMS, adding that it was an offence for anybody to sell above the official rate.
The source said: “The issue is a supply issue and we are trying to see why most of the depots are not selling at the government controlled price.”
Vanguard also gathered that the DPR has scheduled a meeting tomorrow with IPMAN and depot owners to discuss the matter after which the agency would come out with an official position.