By Odunewu Segun
There may be no immediate solution to the lingering fuel scarcity that marketers said was occasioned by the inability of government to pay N413bn subsidy arrears.
Already, the National Assembly has denied receiving the document seeking member’s approval before the money is appropriated thereby compounding the crisis.
Last week, the new minister of State for Petroleum Resources who doubles as the Group managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had told marketers that the federal government was seeking approval for the payment of N413bn subsidy arrears.
Kachikwu had said that the President had approved the payment for the marketers but realised that there’s a procedure that requires that the approval has to go to the National Assembly, and that he had written to the National Assembly.
According to him, the non-payment of the subsidy claims is responsible for the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit or petrol being experienced in most cities across the country as many marketers have stopped importing refined products.
However, according to the House Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, no such proposal had been received by the House. He stated that it was possible that the Presidency was contemplating sending the proposal in the form of a supplementary budget, but had not done so as of Tuesday.
The Executive Secretary, Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said the refusal to honour the Sovereign Debt Notes obtained by them from the Debt Management Office for the settlement of the N413bn subsidy arrears by the Central Bank contributed largely to the current scarcity.
He said the marketers were optimistic that the money would be paid, but stressed, “Even if the money is paid to us and the CBN does not provide the requisite foreign exchange, we are not going anywhere.”