Senate urges FG to pay oil marketers’ subsidy arrears to avert strike


Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Senator Kabiru Marafa, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to pay outstanding fuel subsidy arrears to oil marketers to avert strike.

The call was made following a motion moved by Marafa at plenary on Thursday.

Marafa, while moving the motion, said there was an urgent need to avert the looming strike due to the non-payment of accrued subsidy arrears to the oil marketers.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that major petroleum marketers had, on November 30, threatened to go on nationwide strike if government fails to pay the money owed them.

The marketers include Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, and Independent Petroleum Products Importers.

They gave the Federal Government seven-day ultimatum, saying they would cease operations and withdraw their employees from all depots across the country at the expiration of the ultimatum.

Marafa further said that, if not averted, the strike might lead to artificial fuel scarcity, which might last through the election period.

“The National Assembly had processed and passed the President’s request on July 18 and July 24 and it was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for payment.

“After the passage of the Executive request, the Debt Management Office introduced very stringent measures for the issuance of the promissory note.

“They included a document review by an international accounting firm.

“However, marketers objected to the processes and reacted by issuing a seven-day ultimatum from Tuesday November 27 to DMO to pay,’’ he said.

Marafa added: “They also asked the DMO to adhere to the agreement reached at a meeting with then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in June, 2017.

“It is worrisome that the continued delay in the payment of the arrears has increased the debt from N429bn to about N1trn between June 2017 till date.

“If not settled now, it will continue to increase due to bank interest charges and forex.”

He prayed the Senate to urge the Federal Government to urgently direct all concerned agencies to immediately pay the subsidy arrears as approved by the Federal Executive Council.

Contributing, the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who blamed the situation on previous government, alleged that those who are laying claim to the subsidy were allies of the previous administration.

However, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba (PDP-Sokoto) alleged that those within the incumbent government are the ones sabotaging the process, adding that the matter had gone beyond National Assembly’s input.

In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, urged the Federal Government to engage the marketers.

He prayed Federal Government to “agree on outstanding liabilities to put an end to the subsidy claims.”


Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (Punch)

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