In an apparent move to cut members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Association (NUPENG), especially fuel tanker drivers to size and ease the suffering of Nigerians, the federal government has ordered for over 1,000 trucks. These are in addition to the 500 rail wagons it took delivery of petroleum products distribution across the country, LEADERSHIP gathered last night.
The move, according to a presidential source, is a “calculated and well thought out plan” by President Goodluck Jonathan to prevent the oil workers from holding Nigerians to ransom by refusing to distribute fuel products anytime they have a little disagreement with members of the public or government authorities.
The presidential source said that the resort to strikes by oil workers is becoming embarrassing to the federal government, and said that the administration is set to break the monopoly which the tanker drivers enjoy.
The source said, “The Federal Ministry of Transport has already taken delivery of about 500 train cargoes which are to be dedicated to lifting of petroleum products across the country.”
Recently, oil marketers under the aegis of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), the Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) had threatened to shut down their facilities nationwide if the federal government continues to delay the payment of their outstanding subsidy entitlements.
Even though the Ministry of Finance had explained that the federal government had paid over N42 billion outstanding subsidy claims, while also reinstating that those being investigated for subsidy fraud were the only companies with outstanding claims, oil marketers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja had since embarked on strike.
The minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had said in a statement recently that the strike was being pushed by indicted marketers and that the federal government was being blackmailed.
LEADERSHIP however gathered that Jonathan was not taking things lying low and had expressed serious concern over the issue.
The presidential aide added: “The government has observed over time the incessant recourse to strike by unions in the petroleum sector. Many of them forget that their activities tell directly on the lives of Nigerians and that the government is left to bear the blame for situations it did not create. It is for this reason that government has taken the decision to break the monopoly of tanker drivers and other chains of suppliers in the industry.”
The source added that rail wagons for fuel delivery are already being received by the Ministry of Transport.
“The first batch of the train cargoes has arrived. The minister of transport, Senator Idris Umar has taken delivery of the wagons. The fuel will be moved through the improved train services following the major repair works carried out on the nation’s railways”, the source stated.
Besides, the federal government was also said to have instituted secret probes into activities of some of the marketers involved in the ongoing strike around Abuja.