The Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum has raised an alarm about the non-payment of a staggering sum of N250 billion in bridging claims. Due to this dire situation, a significant number of its members are facing the risk of going out of business, which could eventually lead to fuel scarcity in some regions of the country.
During a review meeting in Kano, the forum’s Chairman, Musa Yahya Maikifi, expressed the plight of its members, who are unable to afford the transportation and supply of petroleum products to various outlets. The outstanding N250 billion bridging claims have been pending for an entire year, as the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has not made the payment.
Maikifi stressed that this money is crucial for sustaining their business operations, and the failure to access these funds could have severe repercussions for the entire northern states.
The forum’s Secretary, Jarma Mustapha, also emphasized that there have been numerous outstanding bridging claims since the era of the defunct Petroleum Equalization Fund, but the payments have not been made to the marketers.
With the advent of the new deregulation regime, they are facing difficulties such as lack of capacity and capital to continue their operations, as a significant portion of their capital is tied up with the defunct Petroleum Equalization Fund.
The forum urgently calls upon President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene and ensure that all outstanding claims up to May 30, 2023 (when the new deregulation was announced) are paid to their members. The rising costs of operation are making it increasingly challenging for members to sustain their businesses, with the capital required to purchase petroleum products multiplying fourfold.
It is important to note that the bridging claims are financed by the consumers through the marketers, contributing to the Equalization Fund, rather than being budgeted or financed by the government directly. This fund is crucial for equalizing prices across the country.
While the forum intends to pursue diplomatic means to obtain the unpaid funds, they cannot guarantee the sustainability of this approach. If their diplomatic efforts fail, the forum fears that they may lose control over their members, potentially leading to service withdrawal as a last resort.
The situation requires immediate attention from the government, taking into consideration the forum’s support for deregulation policies and the potential consequences of further delays in payment. The forum hopes that a resolution will be reached promptly to avert any potential fuel scarcity and protect the interests of both consumers and petroleum marketers.