By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA) on Saturday in Lagos refuted reaching an agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance on the payment of the N800 billion subsidy arrears.
The marketers in a statement signed by the Executive Secretary,Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mr Olufemi Adewole, reiterated that there was no agreement, claiming that offers by ministry failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association.
According to Adewole: we refer to the press release from the Federal Ministry of Finance on Dec. 6 following the meeting with marketers under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), and DAPPMA, and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), said the marketers had agreed to resume operations.
‘ We did not signed the purported document with government as claimed. We still stand by our utimatum.
He also said with the development, the ultimatum still stand, while adding that the marketers could not continue to borrow money to pay staff salaries.
It would be recalled that the oil marketers on Dec. 2 gave the Federal Government seven-day ultimatum to settle outstanding N800 billion subsidy payment debts.
They said failure of the Federal Government to make the payment of the arrears would lead to depots ceasing operations across the country.
Also the Federal Ministry of Finance, on Dec.6, said that the Federal Government and petroleum marketers had agreed on the settlement of outstanding claims.
The ministry in a statement issued by Mr Paul Abechi, Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja assured that operations at all depots and sales would continue until further notice.
Abechi said it was contained in a statement jointly signed by officials of the Federal Government and representatives of the petroleum marketers after a joint meeting.
According to him, the petroleum marketers expressed satisfaction over the arrangement being made by the Federal Government to settle their claims and assured the members of the public of availability of petroleum products.
He said that the meeting which was held at the Ministry of Finance in Abuja, had in attendance senior government officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
However, the oil marketers said: “We refer to the press release from the Federal Ministry of Finance following the meeting with marketers under the aegis of DAPPMAN, MOMAN and IPMAN and most respectfully refute its contents with the following clarifications.
“DAPPMAN reiterates that there was no agreement reached because offers by government failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association and we did not sign the purported document.
“Hence, our ultimatum stands as we cannot continue to borrow from banks to pay staff salaries.
“DAPPMAN’s demands made to the FG through the Honourable Minister of Finance and Debt Management Office was to pay cash and the total sum of indebtedness to marketers within the time frame.
“This was expressed in communications with the government , Ministry and other relevant office.”
According to the marketers, this is to enable them continue in business; pay staff and not rely on facilities from banks which are no longer forthcoming.
They also said that in the past three years, DAPPMAN had highlighted the adverse impact those sovereign debts forced on marketers due to Federal government’s inability to comply with the terms of marketers agreement with PPPRA for its Petroleum Support Fund(PSF)scheme and the devaluation of the naira.
“We affirm that of all stakeholders, MOMAN, IPMAN and DAPPMAN that participated in the PSF scheme, DAPPMAN has the largest debt exposure in the downstream sector.
“DAPPMAN has alerted the FG to this dire situation and specifically to the challenge our member companies face, leading to our inability to pay December 2018 salaries to our teeming work force without the immediate settlement of the debts owed by the FG.
“Most unfortunately, this has not been heeded.
“Since government globally is recognised as a continuum, FG is obliged to settle all legitimately incurred and verified Sovereign debts due to marketers promptly,” they said.
The marketers stressed that those debts owed to them actually belong to banks, their shareholders, depositors and other Federal Government Agencies such as PPPRA, PEF-M-B, AMCON.
The marketers said banks, in compliance with extant banking regulations of the CBN, recently swooped on marketers with non-performing loans; taken over their depots and also had cut off any form of trading loans to them.
“As a result, thousands of families have lost their means of livelihood.
“Many more marketers will follow suit in the event that FG does not settle these debts to marketers.
“We recall events of 2017; approvals obtained when the then Ag. President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in June, 2017 promised that payment would commence by 31st July, 2017.
“We also recall several follow up meetings anchored by the Chief of Staff to the President on the same issue and when nothing was forthcoming from the FG, we were forced to issue an ultimatum to lay-off staff on the 25th of December, 2017.
“Unfortunately based on the FG, failed promises to address the sovereign debt which was then less than N350 billion, it has grown to over N800 billion and still Federal has yet to pay.
“December 2018 makes it 18 months after FEC approval for this payment and three months after the National Assembly (NASS) approval, yet marketers have not been paid.
“We emphasise that FG’s proposed payment of promissory notes is not acceptable to DAPPMAN. We not accept anything than cash
“This will adversely affect the financial system taking due cognisance of the futuristic nature of this proposed mode of financial.
“Therefore, as from today, our work force, save for security operatives, will effective, 7th December 2018 cease to be on our payroll pending payment of the debt owed by the Federal Government,” they said.