The Department of State Service (DSS) on Thursday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC), the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and other stakeholders in the oil sector to resolve the ongoing fuel crisis.
Hinting at economic sabotage, it threatened to go after those impeding the supply of the petroleum products if fuel queues persist at the petrol stations after the ultimatum.
Also last night, major stakeholders in the Nigerian petrol supply value chain, met in Abuja, resolving to ensure that in the next 48 hours, the growing queues in parts of the country are reduced to the barest minimum or cleared completely.
Those at the separate meeting included the industry regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the NNPC.
Others were the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), IPMAN, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), among others. Also present were officials of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Spokesman of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, who spoke at a briefing in Abuja after the Director General of security agency, Yusuf Bichi, met with the stakeholders in the oil industry.
Citing its constitutional mandate to detect and prevent threats to internal security as well as investigate economic sabotage, the DSS said the meeting resolved that “whatever is the issue must be resolved.”
It added: “Nigerians have a right and must have access to petroleum products. We told them (stakeholders) that we will not continue to tolerate the situation”.
Looking at the security implications of the lingering fuel scarcity, Afunanya said: “We were clear and direct that enough is enough. That the fuel supply chain whatever it is must be resolved. They must go beyond what is obtainable now to ensure adequate supply of the products and we will collaborate with them.”
He said the meeting agreed that since there was sufficiency, the product should be made available.
Afunanya said NNPCL agreed at the meeting to make the products available to IPMAN at the official depot price and to improve distribution channels.
“We resolved that MOMAN will review on a daily basis with NNPC to ensure that bottlenecks and issues with distribution chain is resolved and that marketers will lift products while DSS agreed to provide security,”he said
“DSS agreed with others that a solution must be provided within 48 hours. If anybody decides to become an obstacle that it will not be business as usual. Whatever is the issue must be resolved within 48 hours”, he said.
He said the DSS would provide enforcement of the agreement even as its 36 States commands have been activated for enforcement purposes.
“Those who want to use the opportunity of fuel scarcity to foment trouble will not be allowed to do so,” he warned.
Meanwhile, ddressing journalists last night after another meeting at the NMDPRA, the Chief Executive of the agency, Farouk Ahmed, said all parties had committed to ensuring supply and clearing the queues within the given time.
“We’ve heard from all the stakeholders on each of their individual commitments to ensuring adequate supply and distribution of petroleum products. And they reemphasised that the commitment is to take effect within 48 hours.
“So we are hoping that with the efficiency in the distribution, both by marine and trucking, in the next 48 hours the commitments will really start and hopefully we will see a positive environment, away from the difficult situation we are experiencing across the nation,” he stated.
With regards to products, he said all the stakeholders had made commitment to ensuring that the problem is resolved , stressing that the issue of high pricing was discussed at the meeting and had been sorted out.
“This is just to give some comfort to Nigerians that the issue of supply has been addressed,” he stated.
Also speaking, the Chief Finance Officer, NNPC, Umar Ajiya, stated that after the meeting with the DSS, it was important to confirm that there’s still over 1.9 billion litres in stock, adding that the DSS has made further procurement to be delivered in the coming days.
He said all stakeholders resolved to sell at the official price, while curbing the current profiteering within the supply chain and embarking on 24 hours supply without compromising safety and security.
Although there were distribution challenges , the stakeholders promised that the queues will subside in days, assuring that going forward, the situation will return to normalcy shortly.
The stakeholders also resolved that henceforth, marketers will get products directly from the NNPC as opposed to buying at exorbitant prices from private depot owners within the next two days.
The Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Clement Isong, in his comments, said operators would ensure that they implement the decisions reached at the meeting.
“As these decisions are being implemented, the queues will subside. We have committed to work with NNPC to continuously improve operational efficiency in order to achieve operational excellence,” he said.
The Executive Secretary, DAPPMAN, Femi Adewole, said the foreign exchange challenge faced by depot owners was also discussed and efforts were on to address it.
“The challenges to marketers, especially depot owners, were explained and the meeting agreed and actually noted the forex component challenge and its input into our cost, which we should in all ideal cases recover reasonably. That was agreed upon.
“We also agreed that based on the assurances of products given to marketers, provided by NNPC, we will ensure that, going forward, all depots work 24 hours, based on the security risks appraised.
“We will work 24 hours to ensure that the queues in town are reduced. Our retail outlets, spread nationwide, will also ensure that they sell 24 hours based on our security situation appraised. I want to assure Nigerians that going forward, they will be able to get fuel in filling stations without too much hitch or harassment,” he stated.
Also speaking, the IPMAN Chairman, Chinedu Okoronkwo, stated that marketers had been asked not to do anything that would jeopardise their licences, as the association had committed to the resolutions.
He confirmed another resolution that was reached at the meeting was that independent marketers would get products directly from NNPC.
He added: “That will make this product available within this 48 hours that we have been given. And I also want to tell you that NARTO, NUPENG and PTD are in concert with IPMAN to ensure that this product gets to every nook and cranny nationwide.”