Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has said the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, did not tell the truth when he accused members of the association of diverting petroleum products to neighbouring countries to cause scarcity in the country.
The National President of IPMAN, Chief Obasi Lawson, spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, while inaugurating Ben Dumbari Dimkpa as the Eastern Zonal Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the association.
He described as “illegal”, the accusation by Kachikwu that marketers were diverting fuel to neighbouring countries, and stated that officials of the Nigeria Customs Service should apprehend persons involved in the crime of diverting fuel.
Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), while speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos on Tuesday, had accused marketers of diverting fuel, especially petrol, to Chad, Cameroon and other neighbouring countries.
The IPMAN president said: “We (IPMAN leaders) met with the Minister (of State for Petroleum Resources) two weeks ago, in connection with fuel scarcity in Nigeria. We made all necessary arrangements to alleviate fuel scarcity in Nigeria. The minister also stated that the fuel scarcity will be over very soon. By the grace of God, fuel scarcity has started to go down drastically. The price (of petrol) is going back to its normal position (N86.50 per litre).
“IPMAN does not know about diversion of fuel to Chad, Cameroon or other neighbouring countries. That was illegal and mere accusation. Let the Customs officials handle the diversion. We do not know about it.
“IPMAN members are not involved in diversion of petroleum products. This is something that involves the nation. Anybody who is diverting petroleum products is involved in national crime and Customs officials should take charge.”
Lawson, who was represented by IPMAN’s National Deputy President, Alhaji Sanusi Fari, also said the association was no doubt facing a very big challenge in the leadership at all levels, but making appreciable progress.
He enjoined Dimkpa and members of his executive to continue to work towards ensuring a lasting peace in the zone, and avoid any form of greed and egocentric ideas.
The IPMAN president noted that the Eastern zone was the biggest, covering twelve states of Nigeria and five depots in Port Harcourt, Aba, Calabar, Enugu and Makurdi, while admonishing all the members of the association and other stakeholders to sincerely support and cooperate with the zonal committee’s executive.
In his acceptance speech, the zonal chairman, who was a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers state in 2015, described his emergence as a call to duty, which he said would give him the opportunity to build on the achievements of his predecessors.
The zonal chairman also assured that he and members of his committee would consolidate on the synergy between the police, military and other security agencies, to ensure pipeline security and protection.
Dimkpa asked for the support, encouragement, advice and prayers of IPMAN members and other stakeholders, in order to succeed, while assuring that he would take the association to greater heights.