Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Marketers of petroleum products, on Monday dodged journalists who were eager to find out the reasons as to why there are outstanding payments to fuel suppliers as subsidy claims. This was due to a statement made by the Oil Marketers Association, that the federal government where still owing them an outstanding of over ₦200 billion after being paid ₦154 billion on Thursday.
The money was to enable the marketers settle the National Association of Road Transport Owners that withdrew their services over alleged N21 billion debt, causing fuel scarcity.
The Minister on Sunday faulted the marketers, saying the outstanding payment could not exceed N131 billion, from the initial N98 billion based on weekly data by Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency template. To reconcile the figures, the Minister invited the marketers for a meeting in her office in Abuja on Monday to find ways of resolving the issues to restore normalcy in fuel supply in the country.
At the end of the meeting, both parties came out with a resolution to not let Nigerians know the reconciled figure. Besides, neither the Minister nor the marketers appeared to know how much was actually disbursed, or the total amount the marketers received on Thursday.
While the Minister and the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore had conflicting figures of what amount was paid, the minister said N156 billion being paid, while Mr. Olawore said N154 billion was recieved.
Days after the Minister announced the payment, the Executive Secretary of the Depot & Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Odufemi Adewole, had told Premium Times on Monday that none of his members had received the money. Furthermore, Mr. Adewole claimed that the Federal Government did not say anything about the outstanding N200 billion subsidy payment.
MOMAN also confirmed the outstanding payment to marketers to be N200 billion, warning that if the amount was not settled within two weeks, the marketers would have no option than to call its members out on another round of strike.
Curiously, at the end of the meeting, Mr. Olawore and the Minister refused to let Nigerians know how much the outstanding subsidy payment due to the marketer was.
All efforts by the journalists to get Mr. Olawore and the Minister to say what their resolution was on the issue during the meeting proved abortive.
All the Minister could say was that the meeting as “very constructive and fruitful”, while Mr. Olawore said it was “a family affair” that would require continuous talking but, he further said that lifting of petroleum has started.
“Movement of products from the depot to the retails outlets has begun. Lagos is getting better by the hour, but the situation in Abuja, because of the distance, will take some days to completely normalise,” Mr. Olawore said.
Pressed to say what the resolution was during the meeting on the contentious outstanding payment, the Minister said:
“Fuel marketing is a rolling business, there is no definitive or fixed figure. By the time we leave here, the Executive Secretary of PPPRA may have cleared some more sovereign debt notes and the figure may have changed. As long they continue supplying fuel to Nigeria, there will always be something to pay. Government is continuum,” she said.
Pressed further, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala seized the microphone to bring the media briefing to a close.