Federal Government and the oil marketers yesterday resolved the festering issue of fuel subsidy payment and assured Nigerians of the availability of the product, signaling a possible end to the lingering fuel scarcity.
Although the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Femi Olawore, did not disclose to journalists details of their deliberations on the outstanding fuel subsidy figure, a source privy to the meeting said both parties did not agree on a figure.
Our source informed that the meeting only resolved to set up a committee comprising representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, PPPRA, MOMAN and Ministry of Finance to iron out the differences on the outstanding fuel subsidy figure and come up with the actual amount.
From this vantage view, it is clear that the Federal Government and the oil marketers are yet to agree on the outstanding subsidy figure.
While the oil marketers claim N200 billion outstanding, the government says it is N131 billion.
Giving the assurance of the availability of fuel throughout the country after their meeting in Abuja yesterday, Mr. Olawore said that in a few days from now, the crisis in the fuel supply chain would ease in the country because they had appealed to the truck owners to start loading fuel from the various depots after receiving N154 billion payment from the Federal Government.
He said that because of the distance from Lagos to Abuja, it would take some days for the fuel situation to nomalise in the FCT.
Mr. Olawore thanked Nigerians for their patience and insisted that negotiations are ongoing to avert a similar situation in future.
“What we are saying is this, there is a figure, N200 billion. There is a figure, N131 billion or so. First, we must get it clear, at what point did we pick that figure? If I am going to calculate, we will end up today as a marketer but it depends on a figure that PPPRA has sent to DMO and sent to CME. So, my document has not passed the process of possessors so that is why there is disparity,” he said.
Earlier, Okonjo-Iweala said that the Federal Government paid N500 billion since December and just paid the petroleum marketers N154 billion and on the basis of that the marketers have accepted to supply fuel.
“I think this is what we have to say. The marketers have made it clear that based on the discussion we had which was very constructive, Mr. Olawore has assured Nigerians on behalf of the marketers that he will talk to the transporters and the situation will ease. He said that the situation will ease in Abuja in the next few days,” said Okonjo-Iweala.
On Sunday, the Finance Minister expressed displeasure over an attitude she said she has fought for four years.
“It has been very stressful for four years, trying to cope with a group that controls a very important product for a nation and they are small enough to organise themselves.
“It means that they can hold a nation to ransom anytime they want. And that is what is happening. I remember when I came back as finance minister on August 17, 2011 the first thing that met me was this scandal of subsidies. By then more that N1trillion had already been paid.
“And we went through that whole thing and since then we cleaned up, restructured and trimmed down and you see that the amount we have been paying year by year diminished substantially to about N971billion a year down from the N2.3 trillion of 2011.
“We brought it from N2.3 trillion to about N971 billion that has been in the budget each year. So, we made very substantial restructuring and changes to the whole process that brought the amount down for the nation. But yet we have to deal with this problem and the whole country has seen us trying our best, struggling.
“So, we are really appealing to the marketers with everything we have got. We have been appealing to them all week all day that they should not hold the country to ransom,” she appealed.

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