Breaking: Oil Marketers Suspend Strike in Nigeria!
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Oil marketers in Nigeria have agreed to call-off their strike with immediate effect. They have also agreed to commence the immediate lifting of petroleum products across Nigeria in the next six hours.
The Federal Government on Monday demonstrated strong commitment towards solving the crises within the Nigeria’s oil sector and to end the scarcity of petroleum products across the country as it forged a truce with representatives of Petroleum marketers with a view to ending the problem within the next six hours.
Indication to this effect came to the fore as the Senate Committees on Petroleum, (Downstream and Upstream) held the government and the petroleum marketers to a commitment towards ending the problem immediately and not later than the next 6 hours.
After about three hours of deliberation, the Senate Committees Presided over by Senator Magnus Abe announced that the oil marketers after a closed door meeting with the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala had agreed to solve all the knotty issues that had caused the scarcity of products.
The first agreement is that the Ministry of Finance will sign an undertaking jointly with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to verify all outstanding claims by Petroleum marketers and include their findings in the hand over note to the incoming administration. Others are;
*That the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) should also sign an undertaking to the National Association of Transport Owners (NATO) on payment of the outstanding debt it owes the oil tanker drivers ,part of which has been causing the fuel scarcity.
*That members of NATO nationwide will commence the lifting and distribution of oil within the next 6 hours, while the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) should ensure compliance by sanctioning any depot known to be hoarding the product.
*That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should direct its staff to commence 24 hours supply of petroleum products across the country for two weeks uninterrupted to ensure spread in the supply.
*That Lagos state government should also assist in facilitating the free and uninterrupted lifting of petroleum products in all Lagos oil depots by making agreements with tanker drivers which it eased out of some Lagos highways on the best way they could be lifting oil.
During the public hearing by the Senate Committees, the issue of rots in the oil industry in Nigeria was exhaustively discussed with reports that the strike action embarked upon by oil marketers was more responsible for the crisis which Nigeria has been witnessing at the moment with short supply of petroleum
Official of the NNPC, DPR, PPMC and others had told the Senate Committees that Nigeria currently has sufficient products in stock to last for 25 days as they put the figure of the metric tonnes of oil in stock at 981 million.
The NATO representative, Abdulrazaq Maaji told the Senate Committees that the multiple problems within the Nigeria’s oil industry which according to him had been left unattended to for years had culminated in the crises that are now engulfing the industry today.
He said fuel scarcity has suddenly become endemic in the country because at the moment, out of 54 loading facilities available for transporters, only 6 are working effectively.
He said the face-off between petrol transporters and Lagos State government over quit notice the government issued to petroleum tankers on the streets contributed more to the problem.
NATO also complained that the backlog of N20 billion which MOMAN owed its members thus making loading of product difficult for petroleum tankers was part of reasons Nigeria is currently grappling with chronic plastic,
However, the representatives of IPMAN during the Senate hearing distanced themselves from the fuel scarcity in the country, while blaming the problem on petroleum marketers who they insist have been selling products to their members at exorbitant price.
At a point during the Senate meeting, temper rose as the presiding Chairman of the Senate Committees said he suspected the Minister of Finance by her presentation on the basis that she seemed to be on the side of the marketers.
Okonjo Iweala took offence and immediately called on Senator Abe to withdraw the statement or a retraction, while the senator declined to do that.
To arrest the tension, the Committees called for a closed door session with the Minister, top officials of the NNPC, PPMC, DPR and representatives of Major Petroleum marketers where they resolved to address the problem of scarcity of fuel across Nigeria with all seriousness and immediacy it deserved.
By the agreement, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria through its chairman, Obafemi Olawore, announced that its members consisting Oando, Conoil, Forte Oil, MRS, Total and Mobil Oil will immediately commence lifting and distribution of fuel from the stock supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
NATO, in the same vein said it will instruct its members to immediately proceed to petrol deports in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria to lift products and begin to distribute them within the next 6 hours towards assuaging the lingering problem of scarcity in Nigeria.