The lingering fuel crisis may continue till the May 29 handover date to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari government, as oil marketers have resorted to hoarding the product to force government to pay the outstanding debts as claimed.
This is coming on the heels of the fact that the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, is yet to fulfill its promise to begin evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms and depots in Apapa area nine months after.
It was learnt that marketers resorted to hoarding fuel due to fears that they might not be paid their outstanding subsidy claims for imported fuel, and as a result, decided to create the scarcity as a way of forcing the government to speed up the process of effecting payment of the subsidy
A marketer, who preferred anonymity, revealed that it is better to hoard petrol so as to force the government to agree with their terms before the change in government.
He said: “My friend, we are not sure what the incoming government will do with us as from May 29. We need to force the present government to pay us our outstanding claims now. We love this country, but we need to be sure we have products now, because we do not know what will befall us in the next two weeks.”
Another marketer also corroborated: “We are all aware how a new government behaves in Nigeria. There is uncertainty of what the incoming government will do with us as regards the subsidy. If you were in our shoes, wouldn’t you make sure you get every kobo owed you by the present administration? What better way can you do that than to keep what you have?”
It was also learnt that the marketers decided to create scarcity in order to compel the government to pay them the losses they incurred when the government reduced the pump price of petrol from N97 per litre to N87 per litre.
At the last count, the marketers, under the aegis of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Depot Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, claimed that the Federal Government is owing them more than N200 billion as at February this year.
Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, painted a grim picture of the situation thus: “The industry is bleeding. Our suppliers are at our necks. Our members are finding it difficult to bring in products.”