Relief is on the way for Nigerians and companies grounded by the devastating strike by oil marketers, the past two weeks.
This afternoon in Abuja, the the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) agreed with the Federal Government to call-off their strike with immediate effect.
They have also agreed to commence the immediate lifting of petroleum products across Nigeria in the next six hours, starting at 8pm today.
The decision was the outcome of a meeting between the Senate Committee on petroleum resources, the federal government and stakeholders in the industry.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Magnus Abe, chairman of the senate committee on petroleum resources, said some understanding that will bring immediate solution to the supply and distribution of petroleum products have been reached by all the stakeholders.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, Joseph Dawha, group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) represented the Federal Government at the meeting.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have also announced the suspension their industrial actions.
Just before the meeting which led to the announcement of the decision of the marketers to start the lifting of fuel, the committee had began a probe into the fuel scarcity as directed by the Senate last week.
Okonjo-Iweala had during told the Committee that the current scarcity of fuel in the country was orchestrated by forces who want to make the government look bad.
She also said out of the N200 billion that the marketers were asking for, N159 billion is unclarified claims which will not be paid until all the necessary clarifications have been made.
“I don’t want to be part of any accusation of fraud. We must verify properly.
“What is happening is a deliberate attempt to sabotage this economy and bring the government to a standstill; to make the administration look bad so that Nigerians will feel the government has not done anything.”
Her claims were however disputed by representative of MOMAN. They argued that the N159 billion subsidy claim was genuine, arguing that their members could not import fuel because banks refused to give credit even after the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The marketers said they want their money now because they don’t trust if the next government will pay it.
On his part, Dawha said the NNPC has sufficient petroleum products to last for 24 days in the country.
All the stakeholders then went into a brief close door meeting after which Senator Abe came out to read resolutions agreed upon.
“I’m glad to announce to all of us that we have been able to reach some understanding that will bring immediate solution to the supply and distribution of petroleum products,” he said.
“The minister of finance will give an undertaking to the major oil marketers and DAPMAN that will work on the committee being headed by the CBN to verify the outstanding claims.
“If it is concluded before the end of the life of this administration, it will be reflected in the handover; if it is not, it will also be reflected in the handover note.
“On the basis of that agreement, MOMAN would offer whatever cooperation is needed for lifting of products to commence within the next six hours.
“DAPMAN is to instruct all depots to open; lifting of products should commence within the next six hours any depot that does not open will have its license revoked in the national interest.”
Also, it was agreed that all relevant NNPC staff and depots would work for 24 hours, including on Saturday, until normalcy returns to system.
The National Association of Road Transport Workers said it had directed its members to mobilise their trucks to all depots where there are products for lifting while Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria said it had directed its members to open their depots for fuel to be lifted.