Oil marketers in Nigeria on Sunday, December 2, in Lagos issued the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to settle outstanding debts totalling N800 billion, failing which depots would cease operation across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the oil marketers comprises of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs). The coalition threatened that failure to meet the deadline would force its members to disengage workers from depots. The report quoted Patrick Etim, the legal adviser to IPPI as confirming their resolution adding that banks have taken over investments and assets of oil marketers over unpaid debts. Etim said the marketers now have no chcice than to ask their workers to stay at home over unpaid salary arrears due to huge subsidy debts owed by the government.
The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of promissory note being proposed. “As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances received by 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. The report further quoted Etim as disclosing that several thousands of jobs are on the line in the industry, as oil marketers began cut-down of their workforce due to inability to pay salaries.
“At the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with the view to secure approval for all outstanding subsidy-induced debts handed over to the current administration,” he said. On his part, the executive secretary of DAPPMA, Olufemi Adewole, disclosed that the oil marketers had, on November 28, served the ultimatum letter on the Debt Management Office (DMO), the minister of finance, the chairman of the Senate committee on petroleum downstream, the department of State Services (DSS) and the minister of state for petroleum Rrsources. “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. “Marketers are not in a position to discount payment on the subsidy-induced debt owed as proposed by DMO. “The expected payment is made up of bank loans, outstanding admin charges due to PPPRA, outstanding bridging fund due Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board and in a few cases AMCON judgment debts. “We urge that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved payment instrument, (the promissory note) be substituted with cash and paid through our bankers to stop the avoidable waste of public funds through these debts accruing interest,” he said.