There is good news for fuel marketers. President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to approve the payment of their N413 billion claims, it was learnt yesterday.
The payment is believed to be the key to ending the crippling petrol scarcity in many cities.
Petrol is being sold for between N100 and N400 per litre in various parts of the country. Queues are long at filling stations where there is fuel. Many others are shut for lack of supplies.
A Presidency source said last night that “only about N140 billion was appropriated for subsidy payment in the current budget and it has been exhausted”.
“Out of respect for the parliament, the President insisted that the right thing must be done by seeking approval from the National Assembly before an additional kobo is paid in excess of what the budget makes provision for.
“This is a clear departure from the past, when extra-budgetary expenditure was the norm.”
Another source said “the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) expressed the belief that with the outstanding payment due to oil marketers now assured, the marketers and other downstream players will join hands with the corporation to guarantee that the nation remains wet with petroleum products all year round,” the source said.
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Media, to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the President “is desirous to end the petrol scarcity. But he insists that due process must be followed.”
Marketers are hopeful that if the N413 billion subsidy cash is disbursed, the fuel scarcity will be over.
But they also complained of lack of foreign exchange to facilitate importation of products.
A marketer last night said: “We cannot access dollar or pound sterling to import. The banks have refused to give us letters of credit because they don’t have confidence that we will pay back. It is only the NNPC that imports and what they import is grossly inadequate.
“The issue is that many independent depots and retail outlets don’t have products because the NNPC only gives product to marketers accredited as bulk buyers.
“The fuel marketing arm of the oil industry is gradually collapsing because most of the oil marketing firms currently operate at about 30 per cent capacity utilisation. Some of our depots that load around 150 trucks daily have dropped to 40 trucks daily.
“If the current supply situation is not addressed quickly, the Yuletide will be celebrated without fuel, and you know the implication.”
The NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said the Corporation trucked out 25,042,686 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) to various parts of the country between last Saturday and Sunday..
According to the data made available by the NNPC spokesman, which showed the depots from where the fuel was loaded, companies that took delivery of the product, the number of the vehicle that lifted the product and the quantity lifted, 615 filling stations got 25,042,686 litres. They include majors, such as Total, Mobil, Oando, MRS, Conoil and Forte Oil. The NNPC Retail and independents, including NIPCO and Eterna, among many others, especially in Gombe, also got supplies.
Suleja depot loaded 7,178,613 litres for 179 stations, Kaduna depot 2,470 490 litres for 59 stations, Kano 4,930,847 litres for 107 filling stations, Minna depot 224,986 litres for six stations, Gusau 2,311 951 litres (60 stations), and Satellite depot, which feeds Lagos State, 2,164,940 (63 stations).
Others include Ilorin depot 303,000 litres (nine stations), Ore 110,989 litres (three stations), Ibadan depot, 766,007 (21 stations), Gombe area, which has the highest number of independent stations got 3,662,893 litres (78 stations) and Aba depot, 917,970 litres (30 filling stations).