Hours after ordering its members to suspend payments for petroleum products and shut down their retail stations until further notice, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Borno state chapter, made a volte-face and directed its members to immediately reopen all its outlets across the state.
This is as the federal government has warned of dire consequences for any individual or groups of individuals who attempt to exploit or further cause untold hardship to the ordinary Nigerians by disrupting the fuel supply and distribution chain in the country.
LEADERSHIP reports that chairman IPMAN, Maiduguri branch, Mohammed Kuluwu, in a circular on February 6, ordered members to shut their outlets.
Kuluwu had, in the circular said, the action was in response to federal government’s directive that marketers should sell at approved pump price whereas they are operating at a loss.
“You are all hereby directed to suspend selling at all filling stations and also suspend payment of ordering products from source until further notice,” the statement said.
But in a twist, Mohammed Kuluwu, later issued a fresh statement dated 7th February, 2023 calling for suspension of the strike action.
According to Kuluwu, the association is embarking on further engagement with government authorities to resolve the issue.“Having met with the concerned authority, all filling stations should open with immediate effect and continue selling while the association continues with further consultation and accordingly keeps you informed,” the statement said.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon, the spokesperson of the association in the state, Abdulkadir Mustapha, confirmed the new directive.
“Yes, the suspension notice is genuine but we have already resolved the issue and directed all our members to reopen their stations,” he said.
The national president of IPMAN), Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, told our Correspondent on phone that IPMAN, as a responsible organisation, would not work against the interest of the country or add to the suffering of the public.
Okoronkwo, however, said, there was no collective agreement to embark on national strike.
LEADERSHIP had earlier reported that scarcity of petrol and arbitrary increases being experienced across the country would ease in a few days following agreement reached by IPMAN and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Stakeholders in the downstream sub-sector of the oil and gas industry recently met with different security agencies in a determined effort to resolve the problem.
IPMAN’s national operations controller, Mr Mike Osatuyi, who confirmed the development also said, IPMAN is not planning to shut down operations following federal government’s announcement to enforce N195 a liter pump price for the product.
Under the agreement, Osatuyi said, members of the association will begin to get supply from NNPCL.
He said, going forward, the independent marketers, in breaking the festering scarcity, has received assurance of direct supply of petrol from the NNPCL.
The moves came on the heels of a critical meeting between NNPCL, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, IPMAN, Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and the Department of State Services (DSS) amongst others.
In recent months, Nigerians have had a tough time getting petroleum products at filling stations across the country. The scarcity has persisted despite the government’s repeated claims it had enough petroleum products in stock amid a poor supply of electricity across the country.
FG Vows To Find Lasting Solution
The minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva, who spoke yesterday, in a statement by his spokesperson Horatius Egua, said the federal government is working to holistically address the problem of petrol supply and distribution across the country.
This is coming on the heels of renewed efforts by the NNPCL to maintain the 450. 92 million liters weekly evacuation of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) to different petrol stations across the country.
He said the current queues at filling stations did not start with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, but are linked to years of “rot” in previous governments.
The problems associated with fuel queues in the country is not a problem that came with Buhari’s government but a fallout of long years of rot and decadence in products supply and distribution chain by successive governments,”
“Buhari’s administration is addressing the problem holistically. This is the first time in so many years that a government is addressing the problems associated with fuel supply and distribution collectively.”
Sylva assured Nigerians that the federal government is working to find permanent solutions to the petrol crisis, adding that as part of the solution, the government recently set up a 14-member committee in order to avoid future occurrences.
He also said the government has embarked on refinery rehabilitation, with the Port Harcourt refinery at about 65 per cent completion, while Kaduna just got awarded to Daewoo of South Korea.
Sylva also cited the federal government’s “20 per cent equity stake” in the Dangote Refinery, as well as the licensing of modular refineries.
All these, he said, are geared toward increasing crude oil production to meet domestic consumption.