Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fuel Crisis : Okonjo-Iweala, marketers keep mum over subsidy claims

Petroleum products marketers and the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday dodged journalists who sought to find out the outstanding payment due fuel suppliers as subsidy claims.

The Major Oil Marketers Association had claimed they were still owed N200 billion after the government paid them N154 billion on Thursday.

The money was to enable the marketers settle the National Association of Road Transport Owners that withdrew their services over alleged N21 billion debt, causing fuel scarcity.

But the Minister on Sunday faulted the marketers, saying the outstanding payment, based on weekly data by Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency template, could not exceed N131 billion, from the initial N98 billion.

To reconcile the figures, the Minister invited the marketers for a meeting in her office in Abuja on Monday to find ways of resolving the issues to restore normalcy in fuel supply in the country.

However, at the end of the meeting, which lasted for almost three hours, both parties came out with a resolution to not let Nigerians know the reconciled figure.

Besides, neither the Minister nor the marketers appeared to know how much was actually disbursed, or the total amount the marketers received on Thursday.

While the Minister kept referring to N156 billion being paid, the marketers, led by the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore, on the other hand, spoke of receiving N154 billion.

Days after the Minister announced the payment, the Executive Secretary of the Depot & Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Odufemi Adewole, had told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that none of his members had received the money, despite staying at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) till about 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Apart from the payment, Mr. Adewole also said the Federal Government did not say anything about the outstanding N200 billion subsidy payment.

But contrary to Mr. Adewole’s claims, his counterpart in MOMAN told journalists in Lagos on Friday that his members had received the payment of a total of N154 billion (not N156 billion the Minister claimed).

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