Written by Zakariyya Adaramola, Francis Arinze Iloani, Simon Echewofun Sunday, Kubrat Hussain and Olatemide Arowora (Abuja) & Mohammed Shosanya (Lagos)
Fuel queues which started to build up Tuesday grew longer yesterday in Abuja, Lagos and other states.
Motorists queued up for hours at fuel stations in the past two days before they were served.
Many who spoke to our reporters hoped they were not witnessing a return to the “nightmarish experience” of the last few weeks of former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Sources linked the situation to the non-payment of outstanding subsidy funds of about N150 billion.
One of the sources also revealed that in the past one month of the President Buhari administration subsidy funds had accumulated to about N59 billion.
Marketers, who for over two months had stopped importing petroleum products, are said to have been worried that the unpaid debt may have accumulated beyond the outstanding one left by the former administration with mounting foreign exchange differentials.
He said oil marketers are therefore reluctant to commit more funds to the importation of petroleum products until their current bills are settled. It’s not clear whether the current government is willing to offset the debt to enable the marketers resume importation.
Our correspondent gathered that although some marketers imported fuel in the twilight of the last administration, this product would be exhausted by the weekend. ‘’The product imported by some independent marketers few weeks ago would be exhausted by this weekend. This would no doubt throw the whole nation into another round of fuel scarcity’’, a marketer, who pleaded anonymity, told our reporter.
Executive-Secretary of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Femi Adewole, told our correspondent that his members are constrained due to the burden created by unpaid subsidies. He said the current foreign exchange crisis in the country as well as failure of banks to advance loans to his members makes it extremely difficult to consider importing fuel. Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Obafemi Lawore couldn’t be reached for comments.
Daily Trust yesterday observed queues at filling stations at Apo axis, the Central Business Area as well as Jabi and Garki areas of the city. A motorist, Ephrain Edidiong, said he had been on the queue at the NNPC Mega station located at Kubwa for two hours and still had not bought fuel as at 11 am.
He expressed disappointment that the queues resurfaced shortly after he thought the scarcity had ended permanently. A taxi driver, Udoka Okpara, who spoke to Daily Trust, said the scarcity has affected his business as he had spent half of the day on the queue.
“I came here last night to buy petrol but the queue was long therefore I did not wait because I still had fuel. This morning, I have been on line since the early hours,” he said.
He said some oil cabals were bent on crippling the nation and forcing the government to dance to their tune. “Our problem is the cabals. Even if there is petrol they don’t want to sell. They don’t want Nigeria to work,” he said.
A civil servant who declined to be named said he saw the long queue on Tuesday and decided to come very early the next day to fill his tank. He said he slept at filling stations twice the last time the nation witnessed such fuel scarcity. “The situation is bad, my brother. The fuel problem ended not long ago and we thought that will be the final one.
“That time, I slept two times in filling stations inside my car. Even after sleeping, you are not sure of getting it,” he said. He urged the government to quickly fix the problem before the situation gets beyond control.
A taxi driver who spoke to Daily Trust claimed the reappearance of the queues in filling stations might not be unconnected with the recent sacking of members of NNPC board of directors.
Samuel Nnorom, said he was on the queue for 5hours at a filling station in Abuja and it has not gotten to his turn when a Daily Trust reporter visited the station around noon yesterday. He said “so many big people” bribed the fuel attendant to jump queue. Another driver, Oladola Yusuf, claimed most stations had fuel but were hoarding it.
Motorists in Kaduna metropolis are also facing another round of scarcity as the fuel stations in the metropolis are besieged by vehicular queues. However, some fuel stations along Abuja – Kaduna expressway sold fuel with little queues yesterday but some motorists alleged that they were selling above the official price of N87 perlitre.
A motorist who spoke to Daily Trust in Kaduna, Mike Ajefu said he spent hours on the queue before he was served. “We asked for the cause of the new scarcity but they are saying that the marketers are hoarding it because President Buhari dissolved the NNPC board recently,” he disclosed.
In Lagos, some filling stations sold a litre of petrol at N100 even as motorists struggled to get the product. Marketers have denied they are responsible for the current situation saying the scarcity was rather caused by slow loading of the fuel at depots.
The vice president of Independent Petrol Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Abubakar Maigandi in an interview with Daily Trust said: “It was not true that we caused the scarcity; it is due to slow loading of fuel at both the private and NNPC depots.” A spokesman for the Finance Ministry Henry Gulgu could not be reached yesterday.
Our correspondent gathered that although some marketers imported fuel in the twilight of the last administration to save the country from the near starvation of the product, a marketer said the product would soon be exhausted.
“The product imported by some independent marketers few weeks ago would be exhausted by this weekend. This would no doubt throw the whole nation into another round of fuel scarcity,” a marketer, who pleaded anonymity told our reporter.
Executive-Secretary of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Femi Adewole, told our correspondent that his members are constrained due to the burden imposed by unpaid subsidies.
According to him, the current foreign exchange crisis in the country as well as failure of banks to advance credit facilities to his members has made it extremely difficult to consider importing fuel from outside the shores of the country.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Tuesday that it had enough stock of petrol to service the country for 25 days.
Group General Manager Group Public Affairs Division, Ohi Alegbe, in a statement said it had enough stock to meet demands at a national consumption rate of 40 million litres per day.
He said the NNPC had stepped up product distribution to petroleum marketers and NNPC Retail outlets across the country.
He urged the public to refrain from panic buying as its stock of petrol at its coastal depots in Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar and the national strategic reserves can meet demands.
Government and oil marketers met on June 5 to resolve the crisis that had lingered till that period and resolved that the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company as well as marketers should increase the level of product supply across the country
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