Should the Federal Government fail to settle outstanding debts totalling N800 billion, there may be a fuel scarcity during the festive season as oil marketers have unanimously issued a seven-day ultimatum to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The oil marketers, comprising Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPI), said failure to meet the deadline would force its members to disengage workers from depots across the country.
Confirming the seven-day notice, Patrick Etim, Legal Adviser to IPPI made known that banks have taken over investments and assets of oil marketers over unpaid debts.
In view of this, Etim said marketers have no choice than to ask their workers to stay at home over unpaid salary arrears due to huge subsidy debts owed by the government.
“The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of a promissory note being proposed.
“As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances received from the government, saying it would pay off the outstanding debts.
“The oil marketers have requested that forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketers be calculated up to December 2018 and be paid within next seven days from the date of the letter sent to the government.”
Etim said that several thousand jobs were on the line in the industry, as oil marketers begin to cut-down their workforce due to inability to pay salaries.
“At the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with the view to secure approval for all outstanding subsidy-induced debts handed over to the current administration,’’ he said.
The counsel said that the current administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differential still pending.