Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, on Monday witnessed long queues of motorists outside filling stations as members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, threatened a nationwide strike.
The marketers were said to have been angered by the refusal of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to allocate them sufficient volume of petroleum products.
Since the onset of the foreign exchange crisis last year, petroleum products marketers, including both IPMAN and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, have been finding it difficult to access dollars to finance their fuel import activities.
Consequently, more than 90 per cent of the fuel importation into the country were handled by the NNPC, which allocated products to the marketers for distribution across the country.
However, it was gathered that the IPMAN members said they were not allocated sufficient volume of products, as the conditions under which such allocations were made by NNPC did not allow them to enjoy the same credit terms as their MOMAN counterparts.
The independent marketers said they are not allowed easy access to forex.
They also said they had requested that payment of their bridging costs be fast-tracked by the government to allow them participate effectively in the fuel distribution business.
The spokesperson of the NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, said the Group Managing Director of the corporation, Maikanti Baru, had moved quickly to avert the strike by inviting the marketers to Abuja on Monday to discuss these issues.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ughamadu told PREMIUM TIMES that the pockets of fuel queues noticed in Abuja and environs were “no cause to worry”, as the issues that made the marketers issue the threat had been resolved.
“The leadership of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, on Monday announced the suspension of a scheduled nationwide strike following a meeting with the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in Abuja,” Mr. Ughamadu said in a statement.
Apart from the assurance the marketers got from the NNPC chief towards increased products allocation, Mr. Ughamadu said the Chairman of the IPMAN Committee on forex intervention, products sourcing and distribution, Musa Felande, described the meeting as “peaceful”, where all pending issues concerning the Association were addressed.
“The meeting put to rest earlier grievances on issues relating to products supply, equalisation fund, access to FOREX and pricing of products, which are of interest to IPMAN,” Mr. Felande said in a statement.
“This is a very remarkable day for IPMAN and the country. We want to let the public know today that IPMAN is now one unified group. We are determined to continue to support the government.
“We are calling on all our IPMAN members to go on with the usual supply and distribution of products in their respective stations and retail outlets across the country,’’ he added.
The factional president of the association, Chinedu Okoronkwo, told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone all issues that bothered its members had been resolved and members were now free to go to any depot across the country to load products.
Another member of the committee, Zarma Mustapha, said the decision of the NNPC to intervene on the issue of bulk purchase agreement had gone a long way to sooth the frayed nerves of some IPMAN members across the country.
He said IPMAN, whose members “own 19,000 of the 25,000 registered fuel outlets across the country”, had resolved to work with the NNPC to ensure availability of fuel under a united IPMAN.
A member of the IPMAN Committee on forex Intervention, Products Sourcing and Distribution, Emmanuel Ihedigbo, said the cessation of hostilities between the two factions led by Chinedu Okoronkwo and Lawson Obasi was a good omen for the downstream sub-sector of the oil and gas industry.