Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Thursday directed the Debt Management Office (DMO) to commence payments to oil marketers with verified claims, backed by supporting Sovereign Debt Notes from the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
The directive is coming on the heels of Tuesday’s 48-hour ultimatum issued by the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA) to the Federal Government to pay all verified and outstanding subsidy claims, failing which its members would suspend the supply and distribution of petroleum products nationwide.
The ultimatum, which expired yesterday, resulted in the closure of fuel depots and jetties in Lagos, triggering fears that fuel queues may resurface nationwide as the oil marketers made good their threat.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the minister, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, said the directive to commence payments to marketers with verified claims was to reinforce the Federal Government’s determination to sustain the supply of fuel across the country.
Payments based on verified claims resumed after the June meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) when payments totalling N17 billion were made.
The verification of claims is a major plank of the procedures adopted by the Federal Ministry of Finance for managing fuel subsidy payments in order to forestall overpayments.
In the statement Thursday, Okonjo-Iweala had disclosed that following the report of the Presidential Committee headed by the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, some marketers also owe government significant sums of money, adding that government expects that such debt will be paid.
“Consequent on this, there is no call for marketers or other stakeholders to go on strike because government is addressing subsidy payment issues in a structured way that protects both the interest of the country and those of genuine marketers,” the statement said.