The federal government has begun moves to dialogue with oil marketers over debts owed them, to avert a fuel crisis in the forthcoming festive season.
The moves came amid reports that some of the marketers have dissociated themselves from last Sunday’s ultimatum for the payment of the outstanding fuel subsidy debt.
Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Olufemi Adewole, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview wednesday that the Debt Management Office (DMO) has invited aggrieved marketers and depot owners to a crucial meeting on the matter.
Mr Adewole said the meeting scheduled for Thursday in the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Abuja will discuss the concerns raised by the marketers in their ultimatum letter issued last Sunday.
The letter purportedly written by DAPPMA, along with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), gave government seven days within which to pay over N800bn outstanding fuel subsidy debts in cash or risk the withdrawal of services.
Some of the oil marketers groups said to have joined in issuing the ultimatum, however, disowned the letter on Wednesday.
With the deadline of the ultimatum barely four days away, Supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday government was proposing to offer over N340 billion in promissory notes to the marketers “in a few days’ time.”
But, the marketers said promissory notes would not help solve their immediate challenge of settling their workers’ salaries and sundry obligations.
Close followers of the debt dispute said on Wednesday the meeting on Thursday would provide the relevant government representatives a forum to dialogue with the marketers on possible ways to resolve the problem.
Regardless, Mr Adewole said DAPPMA was not perturbed about reports IPMAN and MOMAN were disowning the Sunday ultimatum to the federal government.