Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke
Notwithstanding the challenges to commercial activities brought on by the scarcity of petrol in Abuja, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Thursday said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has got enough petrol stock in the corporation’s reserves to last up to 45 days.
Reacting to the return of petrol queues in the capital city and the threat of strike by fuel marketers over a disagreement on fuel subsidy payments, Alison-Madueke assured Nigerians that the development was being addressed by government and would soon ease off.
She noted shortly after the inaugural meeting of the new board of NNPC in her boardroom, that the scarcity was occasioned by a misunderstanding between the government and petroleum product marketers but that the Ministry of Finance was on top of the situation and would soon put paid to the shortfall in supply.
Although she did not delve into the details of the disagreement, the minister appealed to marketers of petroleum products in the country to cooperate with the government in getting through the challenge, adding that even with the scarcity, NNPC and its petroleum product marketing arm, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), has got about 45 days of petrol to meet domestic requirements.
Alison-Madueke said: “It is with a great deal of concern that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has noticed increased queues at our filling stations, particularly here in Abuja.
“I want to assure the Nigerian public that NNPC and PPMC themselves have no scarcity of products and in fact, we have 40 to 45 days stock of consumption in our reserve this time.
“Having said that, it is also very clear that the Ministry of Finance is working very hard to address the situation at hand and I will like to appeal particularly with the marketers to please cooperate with the Federal Government at this time especially as we go into the Eid-el-Fitri holiday and to find ways and means along with the Federal Government to see that this strike is brought to an end very quickly.”
Reports from THISDAY’s assessment of the situation in Abuja, however, revealed that the scarcity of petrol in the city was biting hard and had led to the emergence of a thriving black market by profiteers who were selling a litre of petrol yesterday for as much as N200.
But the minister expressed optimism that the situation would soon ease with the effort of the Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, Alison-Madueke has asked the new board members of the NNPC to strive within their capacity on the board to uplift the fortunes of the corporation in line with ongoing reforms in the Nigerian oil and gas sector and its aspirations to emerge into a credible National Oil Company (NOC).
She explained to the members of the board that NNPC expects to build on its most recent achievements towards metamorphosing into an NOC and would as much as possible look to tap from their expertise.
“The last fully constituted board of NNPC was dissolved in 2007. However, given the nature of the corporation’s business, the then president, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, granted approval for the constitution of an interim board chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources with the GMD and GEDs as members. This interim situation remained so until your recent appointment on July 16, 2012,” she said.
The minister informed the directors that their appointment to the board was a call to duty which also requires the support of NNPC’s top management in steering the corporation in the desired direction.
“Despite our achievements, we are however faced with many challenges; we must continue to ensure good corporate governance, efficient and judicious use of the corporation’s resources as we await the passage of the PIB into law,” the minister stated.
Members of the board at the inaugural meeting comprised former Head of Service (HoS) of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye; Alhaji Abdullahi Bukar; Professor Olusegun Okunnu; Daniel Wadzani; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Danladi Kifasi; Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Andy Yakubu; Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of NNPC, Mr. Bernard Otti; Group Executive Director, Corporate Services of NNPC, Dr. Peter S. Nmadu; and Group Executive Director, Gas and Power of the corporation, Dr. David Ige.
Petroleum marketers on Monday had demanded that the government pay them all outstanding claims on petroleum subsidy failing which they would shut down filling stations nationwide. They gave the government a seven-day ultimatum.
But in reaction to the threat, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy (CME), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had on Wednesday accused those indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee on Subsidy Payments of hoarding fuel in order to make government reconsider its stance on their prosecution.
According to the minister, the marketers, who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede committee were orchestrating the strike in the industry in order to browbeat the government and be freed of any prosecution being preferred against them.
She insisted that the Federal Government had been meeting its obligations to oil marketers in respect of all legitimate claims.
“Between April and May 2012, Batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled through the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes and other relevant documentation.
“Another N25.6 billion in claims was fully settled with the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes based on the directive of the CME which allowed for the continuity of the payments of all verified claims.
“In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.666 billion have been issued to 31 oil marketers,” the minister added.